Improved consultation and transparency gains momentum

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 1: 2018

In November 2017, efforts to improve consultation and transparency were boosted when the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, announced a series of changes to implement the recommendations of the Offshore Petroleum Consultation and Transparency Review. The changes include the full publication of environment plans that propose exploration activities for a period of public comment.

Since the announcement, NOPSEMA has been providing support to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to develop amendments to the Environment Regulations that will facilitate the implementation of the changes. NOPSEMA will continue to work with the Department and industry partners to support these changes and whilst continuing to progress its own initiatives to improve transparency. To stay up-to-date with the department’s progress, visit industry.gov.au. Following an expression of interest, eight members have been appointed to NOPSEMA’s recently established Community and Environment Reference Group. This group will provide NOPSEMA with an improved understanding of the varying community’s views on offshore petroleum environmental management and NOPSEMA’s administration of the Environment Regulations.

Since July 2017, NOPSEMA has also been coordinating a Transparency Taskforce. Comprised of government, industry and community stakeholders the taskforce seeks to align cross-jurisdictional efforts to improve transparency and community confidence in the offshore petroleum regulatory regime. This year, the taskforce will begin publishing its meeting records and work-stream updates on NOPSEMA’s website to communicate its progress and achievements.

The NOPSEMA-initiated Reference Case Project has progressed with the National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) agreeing to become the interim coordinator. NERA will be working closely with industry and other stakeholders to determine a sustainable model for the ongoing review, maintenance and development of environmental reference cases whilst NOPSEMA will focus on its role providing regulatory advice on reference cases that are relevant to offshore petroleum environment plans. Updates on the project will be available on NERA’s website at nera.org.au. NOPSEMA recognises that whilst there has been good progress to date there are further improvements, some of which are already underway, that are necessary to improve community confidence in the regulatory regime. In 2018, NOPSEMA will continue to progress transparency initiatives and encourage others to do the same. To stay up-to-date with NOPSEMA’s efforts subscribe to environmental management news at nopsema.gov.au/subscribe.