Our history

In 1999, the Australian government commissioned a review into the adequacy of offshore petroleum safety regulation in Commonwealth waters. The review examined the day-to-day regulation of offshore safety which, at the time, was carried out by the state and Northern Territory governments. The key recommendation of the review was that a single regulator for offshore petroleum safety in Commonwealth waters be established. In 2005, that recommendation was accepted and NOPSA (the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority) was established.

In 2009, NOPSA became the safety regulator for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas (GHG) activities in Commonwealth waters when the Australian government amended the existing petroleum legislation to introduce a regulatory framework for a new GHG transport, injection and storage industry.

In 2010, the Australian government commissioned an inquiry into what it considered one of Australia’s worst oil disasters  the 2009 Montara oil spill. The inquiry recommended a single independent regulator for offshore petroleum safety, structural and well integrity, and environmental management be established. In 2011, that recommendation was accepted and NOPSA’s remit was expanded to include the regulation of well integrity. Shortly after, on 1 January 2012, environmental management regulation was added and NOPSA became NOPSEMA (the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

In February 2014, the Minister for the Environment endorsed NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation process following a strategic assessment of our process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Minister’s endorsement is formalised in the Endorsed Program. Under the Endorsed Program, NOPSEMA is the sole environment regulator for offshore energy activities in Commonwealth waters.

In 2019, NOPSEMA became the sole regulator of greenhouse gas (GHG) storage activities in Commonwealth waters when the Minister for Resources and Norther Australian, as the responsible Commonwealth Minster, transferred their regulatory responsibility for wells and environmental management to NOPSEMA.

In 2021, NOPSEMA was given the role and functions of the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator to oversee the work health and safety, infrastructure integrity and environmental management of the offshore renewables industry.

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