Surge in hours worked and commissioning activity for offshore oil and gas in 2017

Media release - Published 8 August, 2018

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has released its Annual Offshore Performance Report, for the year ending 31 December 2017.

“The offshore oil and gas industry in Australia saw a dramatic increase in activity in 2017, with a 31% increase in hours worked compared to 2016,” said Stuart Smith, NOPSEMA CEO.

“The increase in hours worked in the offshore oil and gas industry was largely attributable to four new liquefied natural gas facilities being commissioned simultaneously in 2017.

“Despite the increase in hours worked in 2017, there were encouraging results in a number of key safety indicators, including no fatalities for the fifth consecutive year. Further, dangerous occurrences and injuries were at their lowest levels in over a decade.

“While safety incidents in 2017 were well below the long-term average, there were a number of near misses and an increase in hydrocarbon releases. Industry must remain vigilant and focus its attention on learning from these events to ensure they do not result in harm to the workforce or the environment,” said Mr Smith.

Key performance figures for calendar year 2017:

  • 12.8 million hours worked offshore – a 31% increase from 2016 (9.7 million hours).

  • 291 dangerous occurrences (including false alarms) – lowest number in a decade.

  • 52 injuries – lowest number since the formation of the NOPSA in 2005 (NOPSEMA formed in 2012).

  • 4 major injuries – ended 15 consecutive months without a major injury occurring offshore.

    • The 4 major injuries were part of the total 52 injuries, and included injuries such as lacerations to limbs and broken bones.

  • Total injury rate of 4.07 per million hours worked – second lowest total injury rate since 2005.

  • 29 uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases in 2017 – second consecutive year of increases.

    • Approximately 75% were gas releases and approximately 15% were liquid releases.

  • 12 environmental reportable incidents – an increase from 8 incidents in 2016.

Key compliance figures for calendar year 2017:

  • 156 facilities regulated by NOPSEMA

  • 193 submissions of permissioning documents to NOPSEMA

  • 145 inspections conducted by NOPSEMA

  • 1358 inspection recommendations issued by NOPSEMA

  • 32 improvement and prohibition notices issued by NOPSEMA

  • 21 enforcement actions (excluding notices) taken by NOPSEMA

The Annual Offshore Performance Report is available to download at nopsema.gov.au.


About the Annual Offshore Performance Report

The Annual Offshore Performance Report is published annually by NOPSEMA, and includes information collected by NOPSEMA (and formerly NOPSA) in the exercise of its functions and powers within its jurisdiction from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2017.

The statistical information contained in the report has been obtained through the full range of NOPSEMA’s regulatory activities, including assessments, inspections and investigations. NOPSEMA publishes this information, collected under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and associated regulations, as part of its role to promote compliance by the offshore petroleum industry and share lessons learnt.

The full report can be downloaded from nopsema.gov.au/resources/publications/

About NOPSEMA

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is Australia's independent expert regulator for health and safety, environmental management, structural and well integrity for offshore petroleum facilities and activities in Commonwealth waters.

By law, offshore petroleum activities cannot commence before NOPSEMA has assessed and accepted detailed risk management plans documenting and demonstrating how an organisation will manage the risks to health and safety to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and the risk to the environment to ALARP and with acceptable environmental impacts.

Commonwealth waters comprise those areas beyond the first three nautical miles of the territorial sea. This includes the Ashmore and Cartier offshore territories and offshore areas adjacent to all states and the Northern Territory. 

NOPSEMA also regulates all offshore areas in coastal waters where a state or territory has conferred regulatory powers and functions. In 2013, Victoria conferred its functions for the regulation of health and safety and structural integrity on NOPSEMA.

Formally the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA), NOPSEMA was established in 2012, with environmental and well integrity regulatory responsibilities added to NOPSA’s remit.

More information about NOPSEMA is available at nopsema.gov.au/about/

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  • environmental management
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  • structural & well integrity