Offshore Petroleum Titles

In Australia, offshore petroleum exploration and development is regulated by a title system.

Petroleum activities can only occur if a company holds a valid title, which in itself provides holders with an exclusive right to apply for further approvals to conduct safe petroleum operations in the area.

The most common title is a petroleum exploration permit, which allows a titleholder to explore for oil and gas. If an oil and gas resource is found, the petroleum exploration permit holder may apply for a petroleum production licence or a petroleum retention lease (if the resource is currently uneconomic). The issuing of new petroleum exploration permits is managed by the Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release.

For a company to be awarded a petroleum exploration permit, they must lodge a comprehensive bid detailing the work they propose to undertake to explore the area, along with their financial and technical capability to facilitate the work.

Upon discovery of petroleum, the holder of a petroleum exploration permit must notify the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator and give details of its discovery. Before applying for a petroleum retention lease or petroleum production licence, the permittee must identify the block or blocks which cover the area of the discovery.

A declaration of location is made over the discovery and the permittee may then undertake further exploration and/or appraisal activities within the title area to more accurately determine the nature of the discovery. The permittee has two years after the declaration of location in which to apply for either a petroleum retention lease or a petroleum production licence.

Petroleum exploration permits, petroleum retention leases, petroleum production licences, pipeline licences and infrastructure licences are granted by the Joint Authority, which comprises the relevant Australian Government Minister and state/Northern Territory Government Minister or their delegates.

More information

For more information about offshore petroleum exploration and development see Offshore petroleum exploration in Australia and Offshore petroleum development.

For more information about titles administration visit the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) website.

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