Norwegian firm Equinor has abandoned plans to explore for oil in the Ceduna sub-basin, off Australia’s south coast.

The company said exploration was not commercially competitive compared to the company’s other opportunities. It noted that it had informed national, state and local authorities of its decision.

Equinor first acquired a stake in the Ceduna sub-basin license in 2013. It later took over as operator in 2017 with a 100% equity share.

Equinor Australia manager Jone Stangeland said: “The approval of the Stromlo-1 exploration well Environment Plan confirmed our ability to safely operate in the Bight.

“However, Equinor has decided to discontinue its plans to drill the Stromlo-1 exploration well, as the opportunity is not commercially competitive. We will engage with the federal and state authorities regarding our decision to discontinue the exploration programme.

“We hold an exploration permit offshore Western Australia and will maintain other ongoing interests and activities in Australia.”

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Last month, conservationist group The Wilderness Society launched legal action against the Australian offshore safety regulator over its approval of oil drilling plans made by Equinor in the Great Australian Bight.

The regulator, known as NOPSEMA, then ordered Equinor to resubmit the environmental plan for the proposed drilling.

In December last year NOPSEMA accepted Equinor’s environment plan for exploratory drilling at the ultra-deepwater Stromlo-1 well.

It asked the energy major to provide more information on its consultation with affected groups. It also requested information on the risks posed by oil spills.