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Changes to the regulatory requirements for offshore oil and gas decommissioning will come into force on 2 March 2022.

Changes to the offshore oil and gas decommissioning framework will ensure Australia plans for and manages increased levels of decommissioning activity as the industry matures. These enhancements followed extensive consultation with the public, industry and regulators.

The first of a suite of measures will come into force on 2 March 2022. Updated guidelines will assist the offshore oil and gas industry to understand and comply with the changes.

The measures will strengthen and build on existing provisions in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and regulations.

Policy, legislation and regulatory enhancements cover 3 themes:

  • financial oversight
  • planning and management
  • accountability and trailing liability.

We are working to implement enhancements to the decommissioning framework over the coming years.

Changes to the legislation

The first stage of implementation included legislative amendments.

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Titles Administration and Other Measures) Act 2021 (Titles Administration Act) gives effect to key measures of the enhanced decommissioning framework. It also implements relevant recommendations from the independent Walker Review into the administration and liquidation of Northern Oil and Gas Australia.

The Titles Administration Act:

  • increases oversight of changes in titleholder control
  • expands existing trailing liability provisions
  • increases regulatory scrutiny of the suitability of companies operating, or looking to operate, within Australia’s offshore petroleum regulatory regime
  • expands information-gathering powers.

To give full effect to the changes in titleholder control and trailing liability measures, we also amended:

Under these amendments a person who receives a remedial direction will need to comply with the same regulatory requirements as a titleholder. This includes environmental management and safety requirements.

The amendments also include changes that enable the regulator and titles administrator to recover the costs associated with administering these measures. This means anyone receiving a remedial direction or applying for a change in titleholder control will need to pay associated levies and fees.

Guidelines for industry

We have created and updated guidelines to help the industry understand their obligations and plan ahead:

  • Guideline: Applicant suitability (new)
  • Factsheet: Declaration of experience and disclosures (new)
  • Factsheet: Financial resources (new)
  • Guideline: Offshore petroleum exploration – work-bid (updated)
  • Guideline: Retention leases (updated)
  • Factsheet: Retention lease application content (new)
  • Guideline: Offshore petroleum decommissioning (updated)
  • Guideline: Transfers, dealings, change in control and other titleholder transactions (updated)

You can read the new guidelines on the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) website.

NOPTA has also updated relevant forms and supporting templates.

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