Stakeholder engagement and transparency

NOPSEMA continues to drive improvements that aim to maintain our social licence to regulate and improve community confidence in the offshore petroleum regime. This is being achieved through disclosing more information to the public, targeting regulatory work at areas of poor consultation practice, and increasing the frequency of community input to better understand their views.

Current initiatives

Issues associated with public disclosure of information are not isolated to the Commonwealth jurisdiction. In July 2017, NOPSEMA established a taskforce to align efforts on transparency initiatives with other jurisdictions and to assist industry in identifying solutions for common issues. More information will be made available as the work of the taskforce gets underway.

One outcome the task force has already commenced work on is to reduce the size and complexity of environment plans (EPs). The primary method of achieving this will be the establishment of ‘reference cases’ for environmental management. A ‘reference case’ seeks to remove common content and typical practices from EPs and publishes the content through other means (currently the NOPSEMA website).

‘Reference cases’ have the potential to greatly improve many challenging aspects of the EP approval process including reducing consultation burden for relevant persons, reducing assessment timeframes, and delivering productivity gains for titleholders. NOPSEMA, with funding and support from National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), is currently working to prove the ‘reference case’ concept with four ‘cases’. These cases are expected to be published for public comment in October 2017.

For an overview of the proposed work streams to be pursued by the task force and a summary of the reference case concept see the Smoothing the transition to increased transparency brochure

Review of the consultation and transparency requirements in place under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009

NOPSEMA is working with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (the Department) as part of an ongoing review of the consultation and transparency requirements in place under the Environment Regulations.

While the Environment Regulations contain existing regulatory mechanisms that aim to provide transparency to stakeholders and ensure the consultation process is undertaken appropriately, feedback from industry and community stakeholders indicates the effectiveness of these mechanisms is not meeting all stakeholders' expectations.

The objective is to ensure the consultation and transparency requirements under the Environment Regulations meet and represent leading practice, and to address the concerns raised by stakeholders.

More information on this review can be found on the Department’s website.

Completed initiatives

NOPSEMA identified through regulatory research that poor environmental consultation practices in the offshore petroleum industry can lead to negative impacts on individuals, communities, and organisations. NOPSEMA also received feedback that the current transparency of its decision-making processes and practices was not meeting community expectations. In August 2015, NOPSEMA announced a ‘Stakeholder engagement and transparency’ work program (the work program) to address these issues.

A total of 18 initiatives were identified through the work program to address issues associated with consultation and transparency. Of these initiatives, 16 have been completed and include enhancements to the NOPSEMA website, publication of additional information on environment plans, increased community engagement and publication of new guidance, information brochures and fact sheets.

NOPSEMA determined that the remaining two initiatives would be transitioned to the transparency taskforce for further development. On 31 July 2017, NOPSEMA officially closed the work program. The Final report of the Stakeholder engagement and transparency work program provides details of initiatives identified and actions completed under the work program as well as a summary of engagement with stakeholders.