National regulator endorses project to improve access to environmental management information for offshore petroleum activities

Media release - Published 3 November, 2017

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has published for public comment the first environmental reference case covering the management of sewage, grey-water and putrescible wastes from offshore petroleum activities.

Environmental reference cases capture common environment plan content and typical environmental management practices in offshore petroleum activities.

The Reference Case Project aims to develop a suite of publicly available reference cases that the offshore oil and gas industry can use in the development of environment plans for proposed activities in offshore areas such as the Great Australian Bight and the North West Shelf.

Environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs), fisheries groups, the community and other stakeholders will be able to access and provide comment on these reference cases outside of the regulatory approval process.

The first four reference cases are being developed in conjunction with National Energy Resources Australia (NERA). Further reference cases are being developed in conjunction with a variety of partners including federal and state agencies, conservation and fisheries groups, community organisations and industry.

The application of reference cases has the potential to reduce the size and complexity of environment plans resulting in a faster development process, more time to focus on key issues, reduced consultation burden on industry and stakeholders, reduced assessment timeframes and improved public access to information.

“NOPSEMA supports broader government initiatives to reduce regulatory burden on industry and improve transparency and access to information for stakeholders. The Reference Case Project contributes to each of these objectives,” said NOPSEMA CEO, Mr Stuart Smith.

“NOPSEMA is confident the first reference case will illustrate the benefit of adopting the reference case concept as a component of the regulatory approvals process, and welcomes input from any organisation interested in taking part in the project.”

The first reference case is available for public comment until 5pm AWST on 2 December 2017. To access the reference case, provide comment, or for more information about the project, visit


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.

For more information see

About NERA

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has been established to maximise value to the Australian economy by having an energy resources sector that is globally competitive, sustainable, innovative and diverse. Through a national focus, NERA's role is to grow collaboration and innovation to assist the energy resources sector manage cost structures and productivity, direct research to industry needs, deliver the future work skills required and promote fit for purpose regulation. NERA is one of six Growth Centres established by the Australian Government under the Industry Growth Centres Initiative. The Industry Growth Centres initiative is an Australian Government initiative.

For more information see

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