On this page:
About Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals
The Australian Government is committed to strengthening Australia’s productivity and international competitiveness through a streamlined framework for environmental approval processes applying to offshore petroleum projects.
Currently, petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters that are likely to impact on matters of national environmental significance - as defined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) - are subject to regulation under both the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and the EPBC Act. This often results in unnecessary duplication of environmental approval processes.
Why is the project being undertaken?
Several independent reviews have recommended streamlining the regulatory requirements of the EPBC Act and the OPGGS Act. These reviews include:
In response to these reviews, the Minister for Industry, the Minister for the Environment and the CEO of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) have agreed to develop and implement a 'one stop shop' for offshore petroleum environmental assessments.
The streamlining project will map requirements of the EPBC and OPGGS Acts resulting in a ‘one-stop-shop’ for petroleum environmental assessments that will:
- streamline approvals process to remove unnecessary duplication in regulatory processes
- save Industry and environmental participants time
- endorse NOPSEMA as the single independent regulator for these issues
- maintain high environmental standards.
- The streamlining project is being progressed by a Taskforce comprised of officers from the Department of Industry, the Department of the Environment, NOPSEMA and is supported by technical experts.
- The strategic assessment is mapping how NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation process under the OPGGS Act provides for equivalent environmental outcomes as those achieved under the EPBC Act. This is captured in a Program and a draft Strategic Assessment Report has been released for public consultation on 22 November 2013.
- The Minister for the Environment is to consider endorsement and approval of the Program by the end of February 2014.
Strategic Assessment Agreement
A key feature of the streamlining project is to conduct a strategic assessment of NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation processes, in accordance with Part 10 the EPBC Act. The strategic assessment will ensure that NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation process meets all the regulatory requirements of the EPBC Act.
Strategic Assessments can be undertaken on any plan, policy or program that when implemented may have an impact on matters of national environmental significance. This provides a proven, transparent mechanism for demonstrating consistent decision-making and environmental outcomes. For further information on strategic assessments go to the Department of Environment’s website.
The Program and Strategic Assessment Report
The Minister for Industry released the Program and draft Strategic Assessment report for public consultation on 22 November, 2013.
The 'Program', describes the OPGGS Act environmental management authorisation process for petroleum activities. The Strategic Assessment Report demonstrates how implementation of the Program ensures appropriate consideration and management of potential impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act.
The consultation period on this strategic assessment is 22 November to 20 December 2013.
In preparing comments interested parties should have regard to the Terms of Reference set out in the Strategic Assessment Agreement and at Appendix 1 of the draft Strategic Assessment Report.
Written submissions are encouraged. Submissions may be lodged electronically in both PDF and Word format (preferred) or by mail. Submissions will be published on the website unless marked as confidential.
Chair of Taskforce
Offshore Streamlining Taskforce
Department of Industry
GPO Box 1564
CANBERRA ACT 2601
The closing date for submissions is 20 December 2013.
Review of the Environment Regulations 2009
The review of the Environment Regulations commenced in 2012, with comments on an Issues Paper closing in February 2013.
This streamlining project provides a timely and transparent process for finalising the review of the Environment Regulations. Outcomes from the strategic assessment will be incorporated into any agreed amendments.
An Exposure Draft of the proposed amendments and an Explanatory Document to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations) have been released for public comment. Amendments to the Environment Regulations are expected to be finalised by February 2014
The amendments seek to improve and clarify the regulation of environmental management of offshore petroleum activities, through implementing the outcomes of the 2012 review and facilitate streamlining of environmental approvals.
See Review of Environment Regulations 2009 for more information.
See below for consultation arrangements on the Environment Regulations, and how to register your interest.
Opportunities to comment on key documents
The Program and draft Strategic Assessment Report were released on 22 November for public consultation until 20 December, 2013.
The taskforce held information sessions in Melbourne (25 November), Perth (26 and 27 November) and Canberra (29 November), Hobart (9 December) and Adelaide (11 December) that were attended by Industry, Environmental NGOs, Government and members of the fishing industry.
Following the consultation period, the Taskforce will prepare a Supplementary Report and revise the Program (if necessary), taking into account comments received.
The Program, Supplementary Report and Strategic Assessment Report will be submitted by the Department of Industry and NOPSEMA to the Minister for the Environment for consideration for endorsement of the Program under Part 10 of the EPBC Act.
Subject to the Minister endorsing the Program, and following consultation with affected Commonwealth Ministers, the Minister for the Environment may then approve the taking of certain actions or classes of actions in accordance with the endorsed Program.
Once certain actions or classes of actions are approved, related offshore petroleum projects will be solely assessed and accepted through NOPSEMA.
Roles & Responsibilities
The Australian Government Ministers for Industry and Environment and the CEO of NOPSEMA are party to the strategic assessment agreement.
The Department of Industry is responsible for administering the OPGGS Act. It has overall policy responsibility for the development and regulation of petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters.
The Department of the Environment is responsible for administering the EPBC Act. This includes evaluating the acceptability of environmental impacts and risks associated with petroleum activities.
NOPSEMA is an independent statutory authority established to protect offshore petroleum resources, provide for workplace health and safety and to protect the environment. NOPSEMA independently administers the OPGGS Environment Regulations 2009 and, if endorsed, will administer the Program.
Current petroleum activities under consideration
Current assessment and approvals processes under the EPBC Act and OPGGS Act apply to existing and proposed offshore petroleum activities.
Transitional arrangements required for streamlining purposes will be outlined in the Program and draft Strategic Assessment Report.
For further information about the streamlining project, or to register your interest in opportunities for engagement and comment, please contact:
Phone: 02 6243 7165
Manager, Environment, Safety and Security
Department of Industry
GPO Box 1564
CANBERRA ACT 2601
For further information about strategic assessments, or the EPBC Act, please go to the Department of the Environment website or contact the Department’s Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772.