Environment

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is Australia’s independent regulator of safety, well integrity and environmental management for all offshore petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters.

NOPSEMA’s Environment Division is responsible for ensuring that all offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters are undertaken in accordance with the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations).

The Environment Regulations seek to ensure that every offshore petroleum activity in Commonwealth waters is carried out in a manner:

  • consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development

  • such that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be acceptable and reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

Assessments

NOPSEMA assesses proposed offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas activities by determining if the titleholder has correctly identified the environmental risks and impacts of the activity and if the proposed environmental management will ensure those risks and impacts will be acceptable and reduced to ALARP.
The activity may only commence when a titleholder has demonstrated it will be undertaken in manner that meets the acceptance criteria of the Environment Regulations.
When NOPSEMA completes an assessment, our decision is published on the Activity status and summaries web page. If an environment plan is not accepted, NOPSEMA will provide the titleholder detailed reasons as to why plan did not meet the acceptance criteria.

Compliance

Inspections

NOPSEMA conducts inspections to monitor the compliance of an offshore petroleum company with the Environment Regulations and the ongoing implementation and compliance with the accepted environment plan.
Inspections are carried out using a risk-based methodology that considers the relevant risk factors, performance and compliance history, current industry incident trends, and any relevant findings from previous inspections.

When an inspection is completed, NOPSEMA inspectors will provide the offshore petroleum company a detailed report of the inspector’s findings, conclusions and any recommendations for improvement. NOPSEMA inspectors may also request the company to provide the regulator with proposed actions to address issues highlighted in the inspection report.

Investigations

When NOPSEMA detects a potential breach of the Environment Regulations or a serious incident is reported, the authority will commence an investigation. Investigations are undertaken to determine what went wrong, share lessons learned and, where necessary, hold the responsible parties to account through enforcement action.

Enforcement action

When NOPSEMA determines a breach of the Environment Regulations has occurred, the authority may take enforcement action to rectify the breach, avoid a recurrence and act as a deterrent. Enforcement action can include issuing improvement and prohibition notices, giving directions, requesting a revision or withdrawing acceptance of an environment plan and prosecution.

Promote and advise best practice 

With the overall objective of improving industry performance, NOPSEMA has a function to promote and advise on environmental management matters. NOPSEMA proactively seeks to engage with stakeholders through liaison meetings, hosting workshops and information sessions, presentations and participating in industry conferences and forums.