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New guidance on transfers of operational control
Following a public comment period, NOPSEMA has finalised and published a new guidance note on transfers of operational control. The guidance is intended to assist incoming and existing titleholders in maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements when there is a change to the titleholder with operational control of a well or petroleum activity.
For the purposes of the guidance, a titleholder with operational control of an activity is defined as the entity that has responsibility for day-to-day oversight and management of the activity under that entity’s corporate policies, management systems, contracts and other arrangements.
The fundamental principle contained in the guidance is that permissioning documents such as a well operations management plan (WOMP) or environment plan (EP) are prepared for, and specific to, the titleholder with operational control. These permissioning documents are required to demonstrate the way in which the titleholder with operational control will oversee and manage the well integrity and/or environmental management components of the activity.
Given the specific nature of WOMPs and EPs, changes to the titleholder that has operational control of an activity may present significant challenges for incoming titleholders. For example, it may be difficult for an incoming titleholder to demonstrate ongoing compliance with an in-force WOMP and/or EP that is reflective of a previous or different titleholder’s policies, management systems, contracts and arrangements.
NOPSEMA encourages titleholders to consider the need to ensure a revised WOMP and/or EP can be accepted by NOPSEMA to coincide with any proposed change to the titleholder with operational control. Early consideration of compliance matters that may arise as a result of such a change to the titleholder with operational control will ensure revised permissioning documents can be prepared and submitted for assessment by NOPSEMA before the change takes effect. Mechanisms to achieve this outcome are discussed in further detail in the guidance.
Since the draft guidance was first published in June 2017, NOPSEMA has been providing advice to a number of titleholders and incoming titleholders progressing a transfer of operational control. NOPSEMA has observed titleholders adopting the recommended approach as detailed in the guidance (i.e. transferring operational control once revised permissioning documents are ready to be accepted) are experiencing fewer compliance issues in the transition.