Equinor has become the third major fossil fuel producer to scrap plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

The Norwegian energy company says it found its exploration drilling plan was “not commercially competitive” compared with other exploration opportunities.

Equinor was granted environmental approval in 2019 to drill 372 kilometres south of the Nullarbor coastline.

This came after BP abandoned plans to drill the bight in 2016, and Chevron gave up on a similar idea in 2017.

“We will engage with the federal and state authorities regarding our decision to discontinue the exploration program,” Equinor’s manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland, said in a statement.

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

Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt said it was a “disappointing” decision, and that he would still like to see exploration in the Bight.

“I know many will find Equinor's decision not to proceed with this oil exploration project in the Great Australian Bight extremely disappointing, and it is particularly hard for South Australia,” he said in a statement.

“The Liberals and Nationals Government remains committed to encouraging the safe development of Australia's offshore petroleum resources.

“The Bight Basin remains one of Australia's frontier basins and any proposals for new oil and gas fields in this area will be assessed fairly and independently.”