Environmental activists are celebrating an “incredible win for nature” after the Norwegian oil company Equinor announced it was abandoning oil exploration projects off the Great Australian Bight.
Green groups had been protesting against the planned drilling in the bay off Australia’s southern coast, an area rich in biodiversity.
It was feared accidents such as oil spills would threaten whale breeding grounds, fishing areas and the pristine coastline.
Equinox is the third energy giant to give up on drilling plans in the area, after BP and Chevron abandoned their plans in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Late last year the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority extended a review process into Equinor’s drilling plans, before giving it the green light.
"Equinor has decided to abandon its plans to drill the Stromlo-1 exploration well because it is not profitable," said Jone Stangeland, director of Equinor Australia, in a statement.
While Australian Resources Minister Keith Pitt called the decision “extremely disappointing”, environmental groups have been celebrating it.
The Australia Institute think tank called on the Australian government to grant the Great Australian Bight world heritage protection.
The Great Bay is a breeding ground for southern right whales, and hosts populations of great white shark, sperm whale, Australian sea lion, albatross, fishing eagle, and penguin.