Regulatory Update: Australia (Offshore)

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2019 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Amendment Bill 2019 were introduced to Parliament on 25 July 2019. Amongst other things, the Bills provide for the transfer of regulatory oversight of offshore greenhouse gas wells and environmental management to NOPSEMA and enable NOPSEMA to recover the costs associated with oversight of well operations under greenhouse gas titles.

The purpose of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2019 is to:

·       transfer regulatory responsibility for offshore greenhouse gas wells and environmental management from the responsible Commonwealth Minister (the Minister) to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA);

·       strengthen and clarify the powers of NOPSEMA inspectors to monitor and enforce compliance by regulated entities with their obligations under the OPGGS Act and associated regulations;

·       ensure valid designation of certain areas as ‘frontier areas’ for the purposes of the Designated Frontier Area tax incentive;

·       future-proof references to regulations made under the OPGGS Act in provisions of that Act; and

·       make minor policy and technical amendments to improve the operation of the OPGGS Act.

The purpose of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Amendment Bill 2019 is to:

·       impose a well investigation levy, an annual well levy and a well activity levy in relation to greenhouse gas wells;

·       revise provisions which impose a well activity levy, as a consequence of amendments to Part 5 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Resource Management and Administration) Regulations 2011 (the Wells Regulations);

·       revise provisions which impose a safety investigation levy and well investigation levy as a consequence of previous amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the OPGGS Act);

·       remove certain spent provisions; and

·       future-proof references to regulations made under the OPGGS Act in provisions of the Levies Act.