About Australia's offshore petroleum environment
The Australian Government has jurisdiction for the regulation of petroleum and greenhouse gas activities for Australia's offshore areas beyond coastal waters (those areas more than three nautical miles from the Territorial sea baseline and within the Commonwealth Petroleum Jurisdictional Boundary). These areas are defined as Commonwealth waters.
The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGSA) provides the regulatory framework for all offshore petroleum exploration and production, and greenhouse gas (GHG) activities in Commonwealth waters.
The OPGGSA is supported by regulations and directions covering matters such as safety, diving, petroleum resource management and environmental performance.
Environmental approvals for offshore petroleum and GHG activities in Commonwealth waters are governed by the provisions of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations), and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) This framework ensures optimal environmental protection whilst allowing development of an internationally competitive and sustainable industry.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has responsibility for regulation of environmental management under the OPGGSA for petroleum activities.
The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Compliance Measures No. 2) Act 2013 received royal assent on 28 May 2013. It amended the OPGGSA to strengthen the offshore petroleum regulatory regime, through measures to continue the implementation of the Australian Government's response to the June 2010 Report of the Montara Commission of Inquiry. It included a clarified and broadened financial assurance requirement, which replaces the existing requirement in the OPGGSA to maintain insurance and will take effect on 29 November 2013.
The department is currently finalising draft amendments to the Environment Regulations, which will provide clarification of the information requirements for demonstrating compliance with the sufficient financial assurance requirement to NOPSEMA. The amendments will also provide administrative processes by which NOPSEMA will assess compliance with the legislated financial assurance requirement as a precondition to the acceptance of an environment plan for a petroleum activity.
The department and NOPSEMA will be hosting information sessions with stakeholders to outline the policy intention and objectives of financial assurance, consult on the draft regulations and discuss the implementation of the assessment process, including transition arrangements.
See: Financial assurance for more information.
Review of the Environment Regulations 2009
In conjunction with implementation of the government's response to the Montara incident, and following the establishment of NOPSEMA on 1 January 2012 as the national environment regulator for petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters, the department is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Environment Regulations established under the OPGGSA.
The review sought input from interest groups and stakeholders on the Issues Paper during a public consultation process from 21 December 2012 to 28 February 2013. Twenty submissions were received.
See Review of Environment Regulations 2009 for more information.
All personal information provided by a subscriber is protected under the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988.
- Environmental approvals processes
- Under the EPBC Act, any proposed mining or petroleum exploration or development activity is first subject to assessment and approval processes.
- Permits and Commonwealth Reserve Approvals
- When seeking environmental approval to undertake a mining or petroleum activity, there are some instances where a general environmental approval or clearance under the EPBC Act does not completely cover an activity. In such instances, an additional permit or approval is required.
- Review of Enviroment Regulations 2009
- The department is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Environment Regulations established under the OPGGSA.
For more information about Australia's offshore petroleum environment contact:
Ms Joanna Bunting
Acting Manager, Environment Safety and Security
Department of Industry
GPO Box 1564
CANBERRA ACT 2601