Decommissioning involves the timely, safe, and environmentally responsible removal of, or otherwise satisfactorily dealing with, infrastructure from the offshore area that was previously used to support oil and gas operations. Decommissioning is a normal and inevitable stage in the lifetime of an offshore petroleum project that should be planned from the outset and matured throughout the life of operations.

There are numerous ways of addressing the challenges and opportunities of decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure when it is no longer required. However, regardless of the process, the Australian government and NOPSEMA are fully committed to ensuring decommissioning is carried out in a timely, safe, and environmentally responsible way.

As the regulator for Australia’s offshore energy industry NOPSEMA plays a key role in implementing the Australian Government’s decommissioning framework. It ensures this by promoting a heightened focus on the planning and execution of decommissioning during the assessment of permissioning documents and also by monitoring and enforcing titleholders' compliance to ensure they meet their decommissioning obligations. The key principles of this framework, as outlined in the Offshore Petroleum: Decommissioning Guidelines, are:

  • Decommissioning is the responsibility of titleholders
  • Early planning for decommissioning is encouraged
  • Removal of all property is the “base case”
  • Decommissioning must be completed before the end of title

Exceptions to full removal may apply if titleholders can demonstrate that the alternative decommissioning approach delivers equal or better environmental outcomes compared to complete removal and meets all applicable requirements under the OPGGS Act and regulations, including well integrity and safety-related matters, and other applicable laws.

Graphic showing map and information about WA & NT & Victoria
Figure: The scale of today's decommissioning challenge
*Data sourced from Advisian, (2020). Offshore Oil and Gas Decommissioning Liability (Australia). Prepared for CODA.


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