Safety case regime
Occupational health and safety in the Australian offshore petroleum industry is regulated under a safety case regime underpinned by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Safety) Regulations 2009.
The objectives-based regime is founded on the principle that the legislation sets the broad safety goals to be attained. The operator of the facility develops the most appropriate methods of achieving those goals for their facility; with the ongoing management of safety being the responsibility of the operator, not the regulator. The role of the regulator is to assess whether the operator’s proposed measures are appropriate and to monitor and enforce compliance with duties of care.
Current practice in offshore safety regulation involves the operator of an offshore facility preparing a safety case to manage occupational health and safety at a facility. The safety case describes the facility, identifies hazards and risks, risk controls and describes the safety management system in place to ensure that controls are effectively and consistently applied to maintain health and safety.
The safety case is submitted to NOPSEMA for assessment. Operations must not be carried out at a facility without an accepted safety case in force. Once a safety case has been accepted by NOPSEMA, it forms the ‘rules’ the operator must comply with in the operation of that facility. NOPSEMA undertakes a comprehensive inspection and compliance monitoring program to ensure that the requirements of the OPGGS Act, the safety regulations and the operator’s commitments under the safety case are being complied with.
For further information on offshore safety matters contact:
GPO Box 2568
PERTH WA 6001
Telephone: +61 8 6188 8700
Offshore facility security
Preventive security arrangements for Australian offshore production facilities are regulated under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Regulations 2003. This legislation may be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.au/.
This legislation provides a framework for operators of certain offshore facilities, ports, and ships and a range of associated service providers, to undertake security risk assessments and implement preventive security plans.
Security plans set out the security measures and procedures to be implemented to safeguard maritime transport and offshore facilities against acts of unlawful interference. Security plans also identify security measures to be used when different maritime security levels are in force. The Office of Transport Security within the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is responsible for assessing and approving these plans.
Organisations involved with offshore petroleum production need to be aware of this legislation. In particular, these organisations should assess at an early stage whether any of their activities are likely to be covered by the requirement to prepare and submit a security plan. Approval of security plans can take up to 90 days and it is an offence for an offshore industry participant to operate without an approved security plan in force when one is required. Even if an industry participant is not required to have its own plan it may be affected by another’s plan.
Further information on offshore facility security matters is available at https://infrastructure.gov.au/security/offshore-facility/ or by contacting the Office of Transport Security: Transport.Security@infrastructure.gov.au with attention to ‘Offshore Oil and Gas’.
Security: 1300 791 581
From outside Australia: +61 2 6274 8187
Cabotage: +61 2 6274 6998
From outside Australia: +61 2 6274 6998
Environment protection requirements
Australian Government legislation relevant to environmental management of offshore petroleum exploration and development activities includes the:
Under the OPGGS environment regulations, titleholders must have an environment plan accepted by NOPSEMA prior to commencement of a petroleum activity. The plan must detail the environmental impacts and risks of the activity, demonstrate that those risks are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable and show there will be acceptable environmental outcomes. In addition, the environment plan must contain an oil pollution emergency plan and titleholders must have adequate financial assurance to meet any costs of response and remediation in the event of a major environmental incident.
Titleholders seeking to undertake petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters must ensure that the activities are undertaken in accordance with the environmental management processes under the OPGGS Act: http://www.industry.gov.au/resource/UpstreamPetroleum/OffshorePetroleumEnvironment/Documents/ProgramReport.pdf.
Activities that are likely to have an impact on a matter of national environmental significance may require additional environmental approval under the EPBC Act. These include activities that:
Have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment on Commonwealth land.
Are taken in any area of sea or seabed that is declared to be a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975.
Have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property or on the national heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef National Heritage place.
Are taken in the Antarctic.
- Are injection and/or storage of greenhouse gas.
For further information on environment related titleholder obligations please see: http://www.industry.gov.au/resource/UpstreamPetroleum/OffshorePetroleumEnvironment/Pages/default.aspx and https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A00485.
Other users of the marine environment
Section 280 of the OPGGS Act requires that all offshore petroleum operations must be carried out in a manner that does not unduly interfere with other marine users’ rights and interests. There is also a need to comply with the requirements and standards set by Australian law.
All titleholders must have due regard for matters such as:
environment and heritage protection
Native Title rights and interests
navigation and maritime safety
defence activities and submarine telecommunication cables
- all other users of the marine environment including other petroleum and mineral explorers and developers.
As well as general advice on the requirements that apply to all release areas, the annual acreage release information package contains general and special notices that outline matters and requirements relevant to undertaking petroleum exploration activities in specific areas. Explorers should consider the relevant notices to individual areas released for bidding when applying for an exploration permit, and throughout the life of the permit. This information may be supplemented from time-to-time through alerts in the Australian Petroleum News publication.
Successful applicants are responsible for incorporating these notices into their work program timeframe, and for consulting with the relevant bodies prior to undertaking exploration activities.