Guidance and tools

NOPSEMA has developed a range of guidance, information and tools to assist industry to comply with their obligations and undertake effective decommissioning. NOPSEMA expects titleholders to be planning for decommissioning from the design and construction stage and throughout the life of a project. Detailed planning for decommissioning should commence well before production ceases. The diagram below provides an indication of the type of focus that should be applied to decommissioning at each stage in the life of a project.


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Project Development

Stage Description Exploration and appraisal. Early project development. Engineering and design.
Key Focus Design and build to enable decommissioning
Permissioning Documents Offshore Project Proposal

Offshore operations

Stage Description Installation and commissioning. Start-up and petroleum production.
Key Focus Install and maintain safe to decommission. Progressive decommissioning.
Permissioning Documents Environment Plan, Safety Case, Well Operations Management Plan

Late life operations

Stage Description Five-years before end of field life. Managing ageing assets.
Key Focus Maintain safe to decommission. Detailed planning for decommissioning.
Permissioning Documents EP, Safety Case, WOMP

Site preparation

Stage Description All property permanently isolated and free of petroleum products.
Key Focus Permanently abandon remaining wells. Surveys and site works. Ongoing maintenance.
Permissioning Documents EP, Safety Case, WOMP, Final Well Abandonment Report

Removal and remediation

Stage Description Property removed and title area remediated.
Key Focus Removal of all property (or agreed alternative end-state). Site surveys, monitoring and remediation.
Permissioning Documents EP, Safety Case


Stage Description Agreed end-states and associated obligations have been met.
Key Focus Confirm decommissioning outcomes.
Permissioning Documents Application to surrender title

Proactive planning for decommissioning

International best practise shows the key to achieving the optimal decommissioning outcomes is to start early, with detailed planning starting at least five years prior to ceasing production.

There are many benefits to proactive planning and progressive decommissioning such as improved safety, better environmental outcomes and reduced costs.

Key considerations when planning for decommissioning include:

  • conducting studies to inform removal methods and/or to make the case for leaving property in situ
  • conducting studies to understand the environment, including potential contaminants from years of operations, construction and exploration.
  • being aware of the long lead times for securing vessels and equipment

See NOPSEMA's information paper for further detail.

Engaging the community on decommissioning

Engaging with the community is a key consideration throughout decommissioning activities and will lead to better outcomes and opportunities.

Titleholders need to be aware of the potential future use of the marine environment, and the impacts and opportunities on the community in order to effectively engage with stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement is critical to understand the future expectations, needs and opportunities in relation to the property and the marine area being decommissioned.

Titleholders must also consider the indirect onshore impacts and opportunities from decommissioning on stakeholders such as local businesses and contractors. There are many opportunities for decommissioning which can be explored with interested parties. More information on this topic is available from the Centre of Decommissioning Australia (CODA).

Additionally, titleholders should always be open to receiving feedback from community members and be willing to provide information on specific projects. Contact details for each project can be found on NOPSEMA Online.


NOPSEMA Decommissioning Infographic
NOPSEMA Decommissioning Infographic designed by Michel Ludwig 

Preparing an environment plan for decommissioning

An environment plan (EP) for decommissioning has the same content requirements and acceptance criteria as EPs for other offshore projects. More information is available here on the assessment process. For EPs proposing to leave property in situ additional information is required, as outlined in the diagram below, to demonstrate relevant requirements have been satisfied. Further considerations for preparing an EP for decommissioning activities can also be found in this information paper.


Diagram showing steps to gaining approval
Figure: Steps to gaining approval to leave all or part of infrastructure in situ
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