NOPSEMA requests further information from BP for Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 drilling environment plan

Media release - Published 28 September, 2016

On 28 September 2016, NOPSEMA requested further information from BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd (BP) relating to their environment plan for drilling of the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight. The requested information is expected to be provided by 28 October 2016, at which time NOPSEMA will recommence the assessment. BP can request an extension of this timeframe if required.

A request for further information is a normal part of NOPSEMA’s environment plan assessment process. NOPSEMA may request further information from a titleholder (the company proposing the activity) on any matter in an environment plan to inform its assessment of whether the plan does or does not meet the criteria for acceptance under the Environment Regulations. Once NOPSEMA has received the requested information it will become a part of the environment plan.

If a titleholder is able to demonstrate through their environment plan that they meet the criteria for acceptance then NOPSEMA must accept the plan. However, following a reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit their environment plan, if a titleholder is unable to meet the criteria for acceptance NOPSEMA must refuse to accept the plan.

The Environment Regulations allow NOPSEMA to take as much time as required to ensure a professional, thorough and rigorous assessment is conducted.

As the national regulator, NOPSEMA’s responsibilities extend beyond assessments to on-site monitoring of compliance through planned inspections with powers to take enforcement action where necessary. NOPSEMA’s planned inspections provide assurance that an offshore petroleum activity is being managed in accordance with the accepted permissioning documents, that all equipment remains fit for its function or use, and that robust systems are in place to continually identify and control risks.

NOPSEMA has updated the status of the assessment on the Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Programme (Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1) activity page. Stakeholders are encouraged to subscribe to the page to receive email alerts of any changes.


Due to the complex and technical nature of NOPSEMA's work, media enquiries are best addressed in writing to communications@nopsema.gov.au, to ensure a thorough response to questions can be provided.  

NOPSEMA does not comment on the merits of an environment plan currently under assessment as any comment made may be perceived to bias a fair and impartial assessment of the submission. This position is in accordance with the Australian Administrative Law Policy Guide and NOPSEMA’s published policies.

Assessment timeframes vary from one environment plan to the next because each plan is assessed on its individual scientific merit and compliance with the Environment Regulations specific to the type of activity proposed and the environment it is proposed to occur in.

Before NOPSEMA makes a final decision to either accept or refuse to accept an environment plan, it may make a number of other decisions (such as requesting further written information) depending on the outcome of that stage of the assessment and each decision will affect the overall timeframe.

For more information about the environment plan assessment process see NOPSEMA’s FAQ pages at nopsema.gov.au.

NOPSEMA is an independent Commonwealth Statutory Authority regulating the health and safety, well integrity and environmental management of offshore petroleum industry activities in Commonwealth waters, and in coastal waters where state and territory functions have been conferred.

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.

NOPSEMA employs a robust environmental assessment process, as well as strict compliance monitoring and enforcement programs, to ensure offshore oil and gas activities comply with Commonwealth environment law.

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