Public Consultation Session: Consultation and Transparency Requirements for Offshore Petroleum Activities

Francesca Astolfi
A/g General Manager, Offshore Resources Branch
April 2016

View as a PowerPoint Presentation


  • Australia’s offshore petroleum regime
    • Role of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Current regulatory requirements
  • Issues raised by stakeholders
  • Proposed options
  • Next steps

Role of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

  • Responsible for managing offshore petroleum policy and administration of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 and related Acts and regulations
    • Sets out basic framework of rights, entitlements and responsibilities of governments and industry
    • Key functions as delegate of the Joint Authority
    • Policy settings relating to safety, well integrity and environmental management
  • Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009

NOTE: NOPSEMA is the regulator for offshore petroleum under the regulations.


  • Joint Authority administrative arrangements reflect agreement between the Australian Government and the States and Northern Territory under the Offshore Constitutional Settlement
  • Productivity Commission Review of Regulatory Burden on the Upstream Petroleum (Oil & Gas) Sector (April 2009)
  • Reforms implemented 1 January 2012:
    • Single national regulator for health & safety, environmental management, integrity and day-to-day activities: NOPSEMA
    • Separation of functions for titles administration with the establishment of National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA)
  • February 2014: removal of duplicate environmental approvals under Commonwealth legislation

The Current Situation Environment Plans

  • All petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities in Commonwealth waters require an Environment Plan
  • Titleholder must consult with relevant persons (functions, interests or activities)
  • Titleholder must provide sufficient information to allow relevant person to make informed assessment
  • Titleholder must report to NOPSEMA on consultation including:
    • Summary of each response
    • Assessment of merits of any objection or claim
    • Titleholder’s response, or proposed response, to each objection or claim
    • Full text of any response.

The Current Situation Offshore Project Proposals

  • An Offshore Project Proposal is mandatory for all offshore development projects.
  • Public comment period for all Offshore Project Proposals of a minimum of four weeks.
  • Following public comment, the proponent must revise the Offshore Project Proposal to include:
    • a summary of all public comments received
    • an assessment of the merits of any objection or claim
    • a statement of the proponent's response to any objection or claim, including a description of what changes, if any, have been made to the project
  • A proponent must adequately address comments given during the period for public comment

Drivers for Change

Consultation burden and fatigue

  • Burden in identifying ‘relevant person’
  • Volume and frequency of consultation requests

Timely access to information

  • Information regarding petroleum activities is published after a decision is made to accept an Environment Plan

Process for stakeholder submissions

  • Stakeholders reliant on titleholder’s consultation process to be aware of proposed activities
  • Lack of public notification and comment period

Transparency of consultation process and EPs

  • No publication of Environment Plans
  • No publication of consultation submissions, including the titleholder’s response to concerns raised

Proposed Option 1 – Amendments to Requirement for Provision and Publication of Information

  • Clarification on sufficient information could be achieved through minor regulatory amendments to specify content requirements
    • Supported by additional NOPSEMA guidance on the expectations of consultation with relevant persons
  • Information could be of a similar level of content and detail as that currently required for an Environment Plan Summary
  • Earlier availability of information would allow relevant persons greater opportunity to identify issues they believe have not been identified or sufficiently addressed

Proposed Option 2 – Clarification of the Definition of Relevant Person

  • Clarify and amend the definition of relevant person
    • Reduce ambiguity for titleholders
    • Ensure stakeholders that are interested in an activity are included in the consultation process
  • This could be achieved through minor regulatory amendments to clarify the term “interests”, accompanied by more detailed guidance around the definition.
  • Two options:
    • Increasing the scope
    • Decreasing the scope

Proposed Option 3 – Public Comment Period on Targeted Environment Plan Information

  • New requirement to publicly release environmental management information prior to Environment Plan submission
    • Allows stakeholders timely access to environmental management information and the ability to comment directly to the decision maker
  • Release of environmental management information would be similar to those currently set out in the Regulations for an Environment Plan Summary
  • Would provide the public with an avenue for submitting comments, issues and claims directly to the Regulator for consideration

Proposed Option 4 – Publication of a Full Draft Environment Plan for Public Comment

  • New regulatory requirement to release of all of the information currently included in an Environment Plan
    • May provide additional transparency relevant to environmental management information and could be used as a basis for public comment
  • Publication of more information will provide greater transparency in the Environment Plan process.
  • Improve public confidence in the industry’s ability to manage its environmental impacts and risks appropriately.

Next Steps

Public Consultation

22 March until 30 April 2016.

Development of Proposed Policy

The Department will consider the comments received, alternative options, and will prepare a proposed policy position.

Consideration/ Approval

The proposed policy position will be submitted to the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia for consideration and approval.


Should changes to the Regulations be required, further consultation will be undertaken prior to implementation.

Making a Submission


Offshore Resources Branch
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
GPO Box 9839
Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: 02 6243 7304

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