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Regulating offshore greenhouse gas storage in Australian waters

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We regulate greenhouse gas storage in Australian waters under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

Australian waters are the offshore area beyond coastal waters, starting 3 nautical miles from shore.  

The Act is supported by 4 greenhouse gas storage regulations: 

Our regulatory role includes:

  • providing companies the opportunity to apply for assessment permits, holding leases and injection licences 
  • ensuring greenhouse gas is safely and securely stored  
  • providing mechanisms to manage interactions between the green and petroleum industries
  • regulating site closures and long-term liability treatments

The Regulatory guiding principles for carbon dioxide capture and geological storage sets a consistent national approach to carbon dioxide capture and geological storage. 

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority assess and accept environment plans

The Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator manages day-to-day administration of petroleum & greenhouse gas titles in Australian waters

Interaction with petroleum titles 

The Act describes how the petroleum (oil and gas) industry and the GHG industry coexist. In some circumstances, one activity could impact the other. To manage this, the legislation distinguishes between pre-commencement petroleum titles and post-commencement petroleum titles.

Pre-commencement titles

Petroleum titles awarded before November 2008, including titles directly derived from these titles, are considered pre commencement titles. 
A significant impact test protects the rights of these titles, and activities cannot be approved unless the responsible Commonwealth Minister is satisfied:

  • the activity does not pose a significant risk of causing a significant adverse impact on a pre-commencement petroleum title
  • there is a commercial agreement between the two titleholders

Post-commencement titles

All petroleum exploration permits awarded after November 2008, including titles directly derived from these titles, are considered post-commencement titles. 
If there is no agreement between a petroleum titleholder and a GHG titleholder, and the two activities cannot co-exist, the responsible Commonwealth Minister makes a decision about which activity should proceed in the public interest. Once granted, the significant impacts test protects the post-commencement petroleum production licence. 
For more information please email petroleum.exploration@industry.gov.au.

Offshore greenhouse gas storage acreage release and exploration 

The Australian Government releases offshore areas for greenhouse gas assessment via the offshore GHG acreage release.
The release provides an opportunity for companies to apply for a GHG assessment permit over an area of interest. 
The releases are only held when there is sufficient interest, and they usually run for 12 months.  
Email ghgacreage@industry.gov.au to register your interest. 

Exploration and storage activities 

  • Companies granted a GHG assessment permit in the acreage release, can undertake exploration and appraisal activities in their permit area. 

  • Companies that find a suitable site for permanent greenhouse gas storage in their area, must apply for a declaration of GHG storage formation. 

  • Companies with a declared GHG storage formation who aren’t in a position to inject, can apply for a GHG storage holding lease. 

  • Companies wanting to commence permanent injection and storage in a declared storage formation, must apply for a GHG injection licence. 

All greenhouse gas activities must have an environment plan assessed and accepted by NOPSEMA before an activity can take place. 

Greenhouse gas storage acreage releases

There have been 2 greenhouse gas storage acreage release processes. 

  • In 2012, the Victorian government was awarded a greenhouse gas assessment permit for the CarbonNet project. The permit covered 4,400 km2 off the Gippsland coast. 
  • In 2015, the Victorian government was awarded 3 greenhouse gas assessment permits.  

Contact us

Email ghgacreage@industry.gov.au

Read more 

See the 2014 Greenhouse gas storage assessment acreage release areas.  

See also 

See how we regulate offshore oil and gas in Australian waters 

Last updated: 12 February 2019

Content ID: 46907