The joint venture of Santos Ltd. and Murphy Oil Corp. relinquished its permit EPP 43 in the Great Australian Bight offshore South Australia.
The 16,525-sq km exploration permit was originally awarded to the JV in 2013. Santos, which held an 80% interest and operatorship, said the permit has been surrendered in good standing after completing the group’s work program obligations. Murphy had a 20% interest.
Santos said its current strategy is to focus its efforts around five core long-life gas assets—the Barossa project in the Timor Sea, the Cooper basin, the Narrabri coal seam gas project in New South Wales, Gladstone LNG, and the Dorado oil and gas development in the Bedout subbasin off Western Australia.
The Santos-Murphy exit from the Great Australian Bight follows that of BP in 2016, Chevron in 2017, and Equinor in 2020.
The move also follows Murphy’s relinquishment of an offshore Bonaparte basin permit in the Ashmore-Cartier region in June.
Only one company, Bight Petroleum, remains in the controversial Great Australian Bight region although its request to extend its work program was denied by the Australian National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator in February.
Following Santos’s withdrawal, conservation groups headed by Greenpeace Australia Pacific described the move as a momentous win for those who have been campaigning against offshore drilling in what they describe as a region of vulnerable ecology.