Enforcing decommissioning obligations
The Regulator I Issue 3 I October 2021
In August, NOPSEMA issued four general directions to BHP and Cooper Energy to undertake decommissioning activities in respect of the Griffin, Minerva, Stybarrow and Basker Manta Gummy fields.
In all instances the titleholders had not shown sufficient planning for, or undertaking of, decommissioning activities, increasing the complexity, safety and environmental risks, and potenitally impacting removal outcomes for decommissioning.
The directions set clear timeframes for plugging and abandoning wells, removing property and equipment, protecting natural resources, and making good any damage to the seabed. The directions also require property and equipment to be maintained in good condition and repair so that it may be safely removed or, where NOPSEMA approves an alternative solution such as repurposing, remain on location.
Directions have been issued previously for the decommissioning of Eni’s Woollybutt and Woodside’s Enfield assets, and to Exxon Mobil (Esso) for multiple nonproducing facilities in the Bass Strait.
NOPSEMA will be continuing engagement with those duty holders we have identified as requiring regulatory oversight to discuss compliance with their decommissioning obligations.
NOPSEMA supports the legislative and regulatory change being considered through the enhanced decommissioning framework developed by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. The first stage of the framework’s implementation has been achieved with a series of amendments, including trailing liability, passing through Parliament and set to come into effect in early 2022.