Australian Commonwealth waters start 3 nautical miles from the coastline and extend to the boundary of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
We regulate greenhouse gas storage in Australian Commonwealth waters under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the Act).
The Act is supported by 5 regulations that apply to both greenhouse gas storage and oil and gas activities:
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Greenhouse Gas Injection and Storage) Regulations 2011
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Resource Management and Administration) Regulations 2011
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Safety) Regulations 2009
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Regulations 2004.
Managing offshore greenhouse gas storage titles
The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) perform regulatory functions for offshore greenhouse gas storage activities:
- NOPTA administers greenhouse gas titles in Australian Commonwealth waters. NOPTA publishes information about titles and applications on the National Electronic Approvals System (NEATS) website. Find out how to use the NEATS portal.
- NOPSEMA independently regulates offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas health and safety, well integrity, and environmental management. NOPSEMA also assesses and accepts environment plans.
Managing impact in coexisting petroleum titles
The Act describes how the petroleum and greenhouse gas industries coexist. In some circumstances, one activity could impact the other. To manage this, the legislation differentiates between pre-commencement petroleum titles and post-commencement petroleum titles.
A petroleum title includes:
- an exploration permit
- a retention lease
- a production licence.
Pre-commencement petroleum titles
Pre-commencement petroleum titles are any titles awarded a petroleum exploration permit before November 2008.
This includes titles where the retention lease and production licence were granted after this date.
Pre-commencement titles are protected by a ‘significant impact test’. Under this test, the responsible Commonwealth Minister (RCM) can only approve greenhouse gas activities if either:
- the activity does not pose a significant risk of causing a significant adverse impact on a pre-commencement petroleum title, or
- the 2 titleholders have made an agreement.
Post-commencement petroleum titles
Post-commencement petroleum titles are any titles awarded a petroleum exploration permit after November 2008.
If there is no agreement between a petroleum titleholder and a greenhouse gas titleholder and the 2 activities cannot co‑exist, the RCM decides which activity should proceed in the public interest.
All post-commencement petroleum production licenses are protected by the significant impact test.
For more information about pre-commencement and post-commencement titles email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Releasing offshore greenhouse gas areas
The government releases offshore areas for greenhouse gas storage through the greenhouse gas storage acreage release.
Companies can nominate their areas of interest to the RCM for assessment. We consult the public before releasing offshore areas (acreage) for exploration.
The greenhouse gas storage acreage release is separate to the offshore petroleum exploration acreage release.
Subscribe to Australian Petroleum News for information on acreage bidding rounds. Subscribers will also receive updates on offshore greenhouse gas matters in Australian Commonwealth waters.
Ensuring offshore greenhouse gas activities meet requirements
Permit holders must meet exploration requirements before starting offshore greenhouse gas activities in Australian Commonwealth waters. This includes having an environment plan assessed and accepted by NOPSEMA.
You may then begin exploring in their permit area. If you find a suitable site for permanent storage, you must apply for a declaration of greenhouse gas storage formation. If you are not ready to inject greenhouse gas you can apply for a greenhouse gas holding lease.
Injection and storage in a declared formation requires a greenhouse gas injection licence.
Greenhouse gas companies may consult stakeholders when preparing an environment plan, including:
- government agencies
- fishing, tourism and other business operators
- community groups
- non-government organisations (including conservation groups).
Find information about consulting with Australian Government agencies on NOPSEMA’s website.
Companies that have undertaken greenhouse gas storage activities must pay for and undertake decommissioning in a safe and timely way.
Decommissioning is a normal and planned part of greenhouse gas storage projects. It refers to:
- plugging and permanent closing of wells
- safe removal of equipment, infrastructure and property
- restoration of the environment.
We ensure that the Australian Government's offshore decommissioning and remediation policies, and legislative frameworks, are robust.
Read more about offshore decommissioning requirements on NOPSEMA’s website.