Offshore Project Proposal (OPP) – guidance updated

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 3: 2016

NOPSEMA has published updated information relating to OPPs submitted under the Environment Regulations. This includes the release of PL1650 - Offshore project proposal assessment - Rev 1 - September 2018 (PDF 198KB), updates to IP1664 - Making public comment on offshore project proposals - Rev 3 - September 2018 (PDF 156KB) and updates to GN1663 - Offshore project proposal content requirements - Rev 3 - September 2018 (PDF 235KB).

Key changes

Assessment policy

Clarifies the requirements that proponents need to consider when preparing an OPP submission

Provides information regarding NOPSEMA OPP assessment approach

Guidance note

An overview of the OPP process has been included

Information paper

Information for the public on how to submit comments and how NOPSEMA handles these

When does an OPP need to be submitted?

An OPP should be submitted to NOPSEMA in the development stages of an offshore petroleum project to consider the environmental impacts and risks for longer term, large-scale petroleum recovery activities. The exact timing of submission is a choice for the proponent.

However the timing of submissions in a proponent’s project schedule should allow sufficient time for the OPP process, including public comment, as well as subsequent submission and acceptance of environment plans for petroleum activities before any petroleum activities that are part of the offshore project commence.

An OPP is not required for drilling that is only for exploration or appraisal purposes or other petroleum exploration activities such as seismic surveys – as these activities do not involve long-term, largescale
operations. However all petroleum activities, including those covered by an OPP, require an accepted environment plan prior to proceeding.

An OPP assessment is a two stage process. In the first stage, NOPSEMA assess whether the OPP is suitable for publication and public comment. If NOPSEMA is satisfied that the OPP meets the criteria for publication, the OPP is open for a mandatory public comment period. In the second stage, the OPP is resubmitted and must include a summary of all comments received and a suitable response to each comment. NOPSEMA will only accept an offshore project proposal once it has determined the plan meets all the requirements of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations).

The acceptance of an offshore project proposal does not provide the approval for an offshore petroleum activity to commence. Each offshore petroleum activity within a project must also have an accepted environment plan in place before it can begin.

OPP’s open for public comment will be published on NOPSEMA’s website at nopsema.gov.au and on the proponent’s website.

Any person (or company) progressing an offshore project in Commonwealth waters is encouraged to contact NOPSEMA at information@nopsema.gov.au early in their concept identification stages to discuss the application of OPP requirements specific to their circumstances.