Details of the current status of Equinor ASA's application to explore in the Great Australian Bight

Tom MORTON made this Freedom of Information request to National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority

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From: Tom MORTON


Dear National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority,

I am a journalism academic at University of Technology Sydney. I am seeking details of the current status of the application by Equinor ASA to explore and drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
I wish to know if and when Equinor has lodged an application to explore, whether that application is under consideration by NOPSEMA and when you expect to make a determination.
In particular I am seeking any documents submitted by Equinor ASA to NOPSEMA in connection with their application for an exploration licence if such documents have already been lodged.
I am also seeking details of any correspondence between Equinor ASA and Nopsema regarding such an application.
Yours faithfully,
Tom Morton

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

To the applicant: You might wish to write immediately again to the agency to clarify your application. The Commonwealth Freedom of Inforamation Act gives you a legally enforceable right to certain documents. It does not give you a right to have questions answered by an agency although the agency can always choose to answer your questions.

Your application mentions particular documents at one place. You ask for a copy of documents submitted by Equinor ASA. That part of the application is valid. But you also ask whether an application has been submitted. Strangely, that part is invalid. Instead you must rely on the agency looking for the application documents and then maybe telling you that they could not find any!

The last part of your application could be valid but is not. What do you mean when you say "details of ...". Probably you actually mean "a copy of". If this is so, you should say so as early as possible so that you do not waste 30 days. Also it is helpful if you tell the agency a sensible time frame to search for "correspondence". How far in the past must they look? Do they need to search an archive?

By limiting the scope of your request it is more likely that it will get to the point of being considered properly. If you do not do that, you will find that the agency tells you that there is a "practical refusal reason" (too much work and guessing for the agency) and you will be back where you started.

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From: [FOI Shared Mailbox]
National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority

For Official Use Only
Dear Mr Morton
Thank you for your email.
Status of Equinor application:
Equinor published their draft Environment Plan (EP) on their web site for
public comment on 21 February 2019. Equinor has yet to formally submit any
EP to NOPSEMA for assessment, following closure of the public comment
period on 21 March 2019. A copy of their EP can be found in full (in
addition to  further information regarding the proposed activity) here:
NOPSEMA’s official regulatory role does not commence until Equinor
formally submits the EP for assessment. The timing of a formal submission
is a matter for Equinor, and is not set by NOPSEMA. To keep up-to-date
with details of oil and activities offshore, particularly the status of a
submission once submitted to NOPSEMA, please see: 
Exploration licence:
In relation to licencing, the National Offshore Titles Administrator
(NOPTA) is the agency responsible for issuing exploration
permits/licences. Information regarding Equinor's current exploration
permits can be found here:
Kind regards
FOI Coordinator
National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority
T: (08) 6188 8700 | E: [4][email address] | W:
Regulating for safe and environmentally responsible offshore energy

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