Decision-making guideline

As part of the environmental approvals process for offshore petroleum activities, NOPSEMA is required to make a decision to accept or refuse to accept an environment plan unless the titleholder withdraws that plan from the assessment process.

NOPSEMA recognises that increased transparency in the approvals process and its decision-making on environment plans is necessary to address feedback from titleholders, environmental non-governmental organisations, public engagements, parliamentary processes, and stakeholder consultation.

To address this feedback, NOPSEMA has prepared GL1721 - Environment plan decision making - Rev 5 - June 2018 (PDF 342KB), a decision-making guideline describing how it considers environment plan submissions against the decision-making criteria for acceptance specified in the Environment Regulations. This information complements NOPSEMA’s existing assessment policies and has been prepared as part of an ongoing Strategic Compliance Improvement Program aiming to improve transparency as well as stakeholder engagement.

GL1721 explains how NOPSEMA makes an administrative decision to accept an environment plan where, under the Environment Regulations, it must reasonably satisfied the environment plan demonstrates the criteria for acceptance has been met.

To publish the guideline, NOPSEMA undertook extensive consultation. Consultation report - Public consultation on environmental management 'Decision making guidelines' - April 2017 (PDF 666KB) captures the feedback received and communicated to the broader community including NOPSEMA’s considerations of the feedback and the changes made to the guideline as a result of that feedback.

Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse
Gas Storage Act 2006

Establishes the National Offshore Energy Regulator (NOPSEMA) and provides the regulatory framework for all offshore petroleum exploration, production and greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters.

Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas
Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009

Defines the regulatory requirements relating to environmental management that must be met when undertaking a petroleum or greenhouse gas activity.

Environment plan
assessment policy

Outlines the objectives and provides guiding principles on how NOPSEMA administers the requirements of the legislation.

Environment plan decision
making guidelines

Provides specific detail on the approach, expectations and criteria NOPSEMA uses in applying statutory discretion. In general a titleholder not complying with the guidelines should provide good justification for not doing so.
take into consideration
during decision making


Provides NOPSEMA's interpretation of regulatory requirements, however this advice is not authoritative. Titleholders may offer an equally valid interpretation and provide a plan based on their interpretation of the regulations (but must still show that it meets the regulations).


Provides information, background and practices to foster good/better practice within industry. The advice shall be broadly consistent with the regulations, the concepts of an objective based regime and government policy.
Good practice

Environment Plans Must:

and scale

Be appropriate for the nature and scale of the activity


Demonstrate environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable


Demonstrate environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level

Outcomes &

Provide for appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria


Include an appropriate implimentation strategy comprising of an oil pollution emergency plan

World Heritage

Not occur in a World Heritage Property (with the exception of environmental monitoring of responding to an emergency)


Demonstrate that appropriate consultation has been, and will continue to be, undertaken


Comply with the OPGGS Act 2006 and its associated regulations