Norwegian giant Equinor has elected not to renew its membership with the body representing Australia’s upstream oil and gas industry, as it scales back its operations in the country.

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Following a review of its industry associations, Equinor confirmed it would not be renewing its membership of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) this year.

It added that its decision was in line “with changes to our international operations”, with the company scaling back its operations since initially entering Australia nearly a decade ago.

Shale and Bight woes

Equinor picked up prospective onshore shale acreage in Australia’s Northern Territory in 2012, however, a disappointing drilling and testing campaign saw it exit that play just a few years later.

It also cancelled plans last year to drill a controversial ultra-deepwater well off South Australia in the Great Australian Bight following a “holistic” review of its portfolio, which found the project in the Ceduna basin was not “commercially competitive" compared with other exploration opportunities in its global portfolio.

With its impending exit from the Great Australian Bight, Equinor will only hold a single exploration permit in Australia - WA-542-P off Western Australia - where it is not currently required to drill an exploration well until 2025.

APPEA confirmed Equinor’s exit from the association, while also appearing to distance itself from reports from some environmental group's the Norwegian company’s exit was due to a misalignment between it and APPEA’s own climate policy.

“Equinor’s decision reflects changes to their international operations including a greatly reduced presence in Australia,” an APPEA spokesperson told Upstream.

“APPEA would welcome Equinor back as a member should they again pursue opportunities in Australia. APPEA’s third edition climate change policy principles clearly state its support for net zero greenhouse gas emissions and the role natural gas can play to support renewables.”

A review of Equinor's industry associations in 2020 had found a misalignment between its own climate policy and APPEA's, however, at the time, it stated it intended to retain membership and engage further in developing the group's climate position.