Message from the Chief Executive

The Regulator 2022 - Issue 2 

In this edition of The Regulator, we shine a spotlight on the important role HSRs play in offshore safety and our ongoing engagement with industry at the 2022 APPEA conference. Recently I announced my intention to finish as CEO of NOPSEMA when my current contract expires in September. My eight years with NOPSEMA has been extremely rewarding and now feels like the right time to hand the reigns over to someone who can make a similar long-term commitment to guide the agency through its next phase. With exciting opportunities and challenges ahead, I want to know the agency is in safe hands when I step out the door.

Since joining in 2014, I have had the privilege of leading NOPSEMA as it has matured as a leading regulator with international impact. Among the social, technological and policy developments that have underpinned the agency’s evolution are:

  • efforts to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden through streamlining of approval processes and expanding the application of risk-based approaches to regulatory activities
  • an increasing focus among the community on environment, social and governance (ESG) and social license
  • a growing interest in emissions reduction strategies like carbon capture storage and renewable energy activities
  • enhancements to the transparency of regulatory assessment and decision-making processes
  • increasing regulatory oversight of decommissioning work as the industry matures and facilities approach the end of their life.

In my time as CEO, NOPSEMA has responded to challenges such as the impact of historically low oil prices, widespread community opposition to the development of titles in the Great Australian Bight, and of course the global COVID-19 pandemic. The collapse of the Northern Oil and Gas Australia (NOGA) group of companies and subsequent liability for decommissioning of the Northern Endeavour facility also proved to be significant issues. Despite these challenges, NOPSEMA has not lost sight of its’ vision of a protected offshore workforce and environment.

I am pleased that in the eight years I have been CEO, there have been no fatalities, major accident events or environmental disasters. As confirmed by multiple independent reviews, NOPSEMA has proven itself to be an efficient and effective regulator that is ‘appropriately focused in bringing about improvement in OHS, well integrity and environmental management across the offshore oil and gas industry.’

Key to our success has been a commitment to broad engagement with duty holders, government, workforce representatives, peak industry bodies, environmental NGOs, fishing groups and the wider community. How we approach our engagement continues to evolve to ensure it is fit-for-purpose and continues to deliver on the expectations of stakeholders. An incoming CEO will undoubtedly face challenges, but with this comes a great opportunity to lead the development of new functions.

Expanding financial assurance, ensuring regulatory oversight of carbon capture and storage activities, and establishing the role of a safety and environment regulator for the emerging offshore renewable energy sector are all on the horizon. Opportunities also exist in continuing to lead a community of best practice regulators as Chair of the International Regulators Forum and the International Offshore Petroleum Environment Regulators, together with improving our regulatory management systems and embracing new technologies under the government’s deregulation program.

The agency will continue working with government to respond to the recommendations of the 2020 independent operational review of NOPSEMA, including a potential merger of the agency with the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA)

The past few years have been challenging for all of us, but I believe that as an agency we have set a high bar for industry and ourselves

The expectation that the industry continues to pursue improvement also applies to NOPSEMA and there is plenty more to be done. I encourage anyone with appropriate qualifications and experience to apply to become the next NOPSEMA CEO. If appointed, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling role where you can make a huge difference. 

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