Independent reviews

Independent operational review

Every five years, NOPSEMA is subject to an independent operational review of its regulatory performance and its performance as the sole environment regulator in Commonwealth waters.

To date, two reviews have been undertaken including the operational review of NOPSEMA in 2015 and the operational review of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSEMA's predecessor).

An independent EPBC Act streamlining review is a requirement of the administrative arrangements of NOPSEMA's endorsement as sole environment regulator for oil and gas activities in Commonwealth waters.

To date, only one review has been undertaken, the EPBC Act Streamlining Review in 2015. Future reviews are to be incorporate into the five-yearly operational review.

The Chief Scientist's Independent audit of NOPSEMA's consideration of exploration in the Great Australian Bight was released on 20 September 2019. NOPSEMA published a table of actions in its NOPSEMA response to Chief Scientist Audit.

The 2011 Operational Review (the Review) of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) found that NOPSA firmly established itself as a respected and competent safety regulator among stakeholders and peers in both the domestic and international offshore petroleum and gas industry.

The 2015 Operational Review (the Review) was the first of NOPSEMA since its establishment on 1 January 2012, and relates to the three-year period beginning on that date. There have been two previous triennial reviews of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA), the last covering the period from 2009 to 2011. Subsequent statutory reviews will take place every five years.

The Review considered NOPSEMA's effectiveness of bringing about improvements in occupational health and safety, environmental management and well integrity. The Review report includes stakeholder's submissions and contains findings and recommendations that address the scope of NOPSEMA's activities. The Review findings are positive with the review Panel finding that "… NOPSEMA is demonstrating the characteristics of an effective regulator". The Review was provided to the then Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, on 30 June 2015 and tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 16 September 2015.

The Government Response to the 2015 Operational Review of NOPSEMA (the Government Response) was tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 2 December 2015 by the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.

The Government considered and accepted 15 of the 16 the Review recommendations, noted one and supported the 26 findings.

Of the 16 recommendations, the implementation of 10 recommendations is the responsibility of NOPSEMA's Chief Executive Officer. One recommendation is the responsibility of Government, to be progressed by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. One recommendation is a joint responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer of NOPSEMA and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator, and four recommendations are the joint responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer of NOPSEMA and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

All responsible parties will be implementing their responses in accordance with the Government Response.

The next operational review will be conducted in 2020.

In 2015, an independent review of NOPSEMA's compliance with the environmental management authorisation process (the Program) endorsed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) determined that NOPSEMA is meeting all of its commitments under the Program.

The Minister for the Environment endorsed NOPSEMA's environmental authorisation process (the Program) in February 2014 under the strategic assessment provisions of the EPBC Act. The endorsement provided for EPBC Act approval of petroleum activities authorised under NOPSEMA's process.

The endorsed Program included a commitment to a periodic independent review of NOPSEMA's compliance with the Program. The first review, initiated following 12 months of operation of the Program, commenced in April 2015.

Environmental Resources Management Australia (ERM) was commissioned to conduct the review under terms of reference agreed by the Department of Industry and Science, the Department of Environment and NOPSEMA. The scope of the review considered NOPSEMA's performance in meeting the Program objectives, including ensuring that impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act are not unacceptable.

The review found that NOPSEMA met all commitments under the Program, which were triggered during the review period, and that the required processes and procedures are in place for the Program commitments to continue to be met in the future. As such, the reviewer concluded that no formal recommendations or modification of management arrangements were required.

The review identified a range of opportunities for improvement, which NOPSEMA has accepted and is implementing. These are included in the Program Review Report – NOPSEMA Response to observations and improvements.

On 4 September 2015, the Minister for the Environment's delegate endorsed the EPBC Act Streamlining Review Report.

The next review of the Program will be conducted in 2020.

Page last updated: June 13, 2021 11:42am