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Offshore oil and gas decommissioning framework review

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Publication Date: 
October 2018

Companies must decommission oil and gas wells, pipelines and other infrastructure no longer needed or in use. Decommissioning activities like plugging and abandoning wells, removing property and rehabilitating sites must be done in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

There is a robust regulatory framework in place and a number of smaller decommissioning activities have occurred. However, as the Australian offshore petroleum sector continues to mature an increasing number of offshore petroleum projects will need to be decommissioned. It is anticipated that a substantial number of the approximately 136 fixed facilities (including pipelines) are likely to commence decommissioning activities in the coming decade. 

To best prepare for increased and larger scale decommissioning activity, we are reviewing the policy, regulatory and legislative framework for decommissioning offshore petroleum infrastructure in Commonwealth waters (the framework).

The review aims to ensure the framework is fit-for-purpose, continues to meet community and industry expectations, and positions Australia to respond to decommissioning challenges and opportunities now and into the future. The review will identify areas where the framework could be clarified, rationalised or improved.

Terms of Reference

The review focuses primarily on environmental and well integrity outcomes, and regulatory oversight. It will be conducted in accordance with its Terms of Reference [331KB PDF] [80KB DOCX].

Consultation process

It is important that the framework meets the expectations of government, industry and Australian community. If you are involved in, or affected by, the offshore decommissioning regime, or are interested in Australia’s resource management, we encourage you to participate in the review. Comments and submissions will help inform our approach in developing a revised decommissioning framework.

The review will be delivered over four stages.

Initial review: October 2018 – January 2019

The first stage of the review is designed to discuss the current framework, and discover issues with and opportunities to enhance it.

To stimulate discussion, we have released a paper for comment. You can provide input in response to the discussion paper until mid January 2019.

We are also holding discussion forums in late October and early November 2018.

Provide input or participate in a forum

Policy options: January – early 2020

Once we have considered the comments provided on the discussion paper, we will develop and release an options paper detailing preferred proposed options to enhance the decommissioning framework. The key purpose is to seek feedback on government’s preferred policy options.

We expect to release and consult on this paper in early 2020.

Proposed policy: 2020

We will provide the outcomes of the review and options for the proposed revised decommissioning policy framework to the Minister for Resources in 2020. This will outline key legislative and regulatory changes that might be required to implement the proposed revised policy framework.

Revised framework: post 2020

Once considered by the Government, we will start work on changes required to implement the agreed revised decommissioning framework.

Stay informed

To register your interest in receiving updates on the review email:

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