Assessment process

NOPSEMA’s dedicated assessment teams, staffed by highly trained and qualified technical experts, assess each environment plan or offshore project proposal against the requirements of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009.

In all cases, NOPSEMA will undertake a general assessment against the content requirements to determine if the environment plan or offshore project proposal meets the acceptance criteria. NOPSEMA will also conduct a detailed technical assessment of one or more components of the activity. The components chosen for detailed technical assessment are those that pose the greatest levels of environmental impact or risk.

During the assessment of an environment plan, NOPSEMA will have regard to:

  • the compliance record of the titleholder, where it relates to matters considered in the plan

  • relevant information, including correspondence from external stakeholders

  • the Department of the Environment policies, guidelines, plans of management and any other material relating to matters protected under Part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 relevant to the activity

  • reputable, publicly available scientific and other literature relevant to the assessment.

Decisions

NOPSEMA makes assessment decisions based on the requirements of the law and the merits of the proposed management of environmental risks and impacts. NOPSEMA has published a decision making guideline describing how it considers environment plan submissions against the decision-making criteria for acceptance specified in the Environment Regulations.

Unless a titleholder withdraws an environment plan or offshore project proposal from the assessment process, NOPSEMA is required by law to make a decision to either accept or refuse to accept the environment plan or offshore project proposal. The assessment process is iterative, however, and will typically involve at least one round of engagement with the titleholder before a decision is made. For example, NOPSEMA may decide that further written information is required or if the environment plan is not acceptable then NOPSEMA must provide the titleholder a reasonable opportunity to modify it.

NOPSEMA publishes the status of assessments and any assessment decisions made on the Activity status and summaries page for environment plans, and the OPP page for offshore project proposals.

Requests for further written information

During the assessment process, NOPSEMA may request further written information from a titleholder to clarify aspects of an environment plan or offshore project proposal, or to provide information that appears to be missing from the plan.

Opportunity to modify and resubmit

If NOPSEMA determines that an environment plan does not meet the criteria for acceptance when first submitted, the authority is required by law to give the titleholder a reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit the plan for further assessment. NOPSEMA will typically only provide two opportunities to modify and resubmit an environment plan before it makes its decision to accept or refuse to accept the plan.

Accept or refuse to accept:

If NOPSEMA determines that an environment plan has met the criteria for acceptance then it must accept the plan. An environment plan is considered to be in-force on the date it is accepted. Within 10 working days of accepting a plan, the titleholder is required to provide a summary of the plan for NOPSEMA’s assessment and to be published on the NOPSEMA website.

If NOPSEMA determines that it is not reasonably satisfied that an environment plan has not met the criteria for acceptance, and has already provided the titleholder with an opportunity to modify and resubmit, it must refuse to accept the plan. The titleholder may choose to submit another environment plan for the same activity and in this instance NOPSEMA will commence a new assessment.

If NOPSEMA determines that an offshore project proposal has met the criteria for acceptance then it must accept the proposal. The acceptance of a proposal does not provide approval for the activity to proceed. Each activity within the proposal must also have an accepted environment plan in place before it can begin.  

If NOPSEMA determines that it is not reasonably satisfied that an offshore project proposal has met the criteria for acceptance, and has  provided the titleholder with requests for further information, it will refuse to accept the proposal. The proponent may choose to submit a new offshore project proposal after modifying the development and in this instance NOPSEMA will commence a new assessment.