NOPSEMA EPBC Act Program
Streamlined regulation of environmental management for offshore oil and gas activities.
On 28 February 2014, following Australian Government decisions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the process for streamlined environmental approvals for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities in Commonwealth waters came into effect.
Following a strategic assessment of NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation process under the EPBC Act, the Federal Minister for the Environment endorsed NOPSEMA’s process as a Program (the Program) that meets the requirements of Part 10 of the EPBC Act. Subsequently, the Minister also approved a class of actions which, if undertaken in accordance with the endorsed Program, will not require separate referral, assessment and approval under the EPBC Act.
Key regulatory elements of the endorsed Program consist of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations) and NOPSEMA’s Program commitments in the Program Report - Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals, Program Report February 2014.
All petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities undertaken in Commonwealth waters in accordance with the endorsed Program are considered as “approved classes of action”, with the exception of those that:
- have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment on Commonwealth land.
- are taken in any area of the sea or seabed that is declared to be part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cth).
- have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property or on the national heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef National Heritage place.
- are taken in the Antarctic.
- are injection and / or storage of greenhouse gas.
The Program provides for NOPSEMA to assess and make approval decisions for new offshore petroleum development projects and shorter-term activities.
New projects are considered under an Offshore Project Proposal (OPP) process which delivers outcomes similar to the environmental impact statement assessment process under the EPBC Act.
An activity covered by the Program is not allowed to commence unless an Environment Plan for the activity has been accepted by NOPSEMA.
NOPSEMA’s environmental assessment processes consider all project- and activity-specific environmental impacts and risks, including but not limited to those relevant to matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. Decision-making under the Program ensures that environmental impacts and risks, including to matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act, will be of an acceptable level and reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). The object of the Environment Regulations is also to ensure that any petroleum activity or greenhouse gas storage activity is carried out in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development as set out in section 3A of the EPBC Act.
Key steps taken by NOPSEMA to deliver the strong environmental safeguards expected include applying and complying with NOPSEMA’s Program commitments through assessments and decision-making. Many of these commitments closely mirror legislative requirements for decision-making under the EPBC Act.
To ensure that the Program is meeting its objectives, NOPSEMA’s performance in implementing the Program was reviewed one year after its commencement in 2015. The Program also includes the requirement for routine 5-yearly reviews thereafter, with the most recent one being carried out in 2020.
More detail on NOPSEMA’s environmental management assessment processes and decision-making considerations can be found at:
- Assessment process
- Offshore Project Proposal Decision Making Guidelines
- Environment Plan Decision Making Guidelines
Further information about the Program, including the Minister’s for the Environment decision notices and NOPSEMA’s environmental management commitments can be found at:
- Strategic assessment of the environment management authorisation process for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006
- Program report - Streamlining offshore petroleum environmental approvals - February 2014
Further information about Program performance can be found at:
- EPBC Streamlining review report - August 2015
- Program review report - NOPSEMA response and observations to improvements - August 2015
EPBC streamlining performance reports can found below.
|Environment plan decision making guideline||463.27 KB||16/12/2022|
|Blue Whale Conservation Management Plan - FAQs||288.88 KB||16/11/2021|
|EPBC Streamlining Report 2020-21||472.53 KB||12/08/2021|
|Offshore project proposal decision making guideline||228.25 KB||10/06/2021|
|EPBC streamlining performance report 2018-19||271.09 KB||24/09/2019|
|EPBC streamlining performance report 2017-18||249.64 KB||01/08/2019|
|EPBC Streamlining review report - August 2015||1.42 MB||24/12/2015|
|Program review report - NOPSEMA response and observations to improvements - August 2015||306.82 KB||07/09/2015|
|Program report - Streamlining offshore petroleum environmental approvals - February 2014||873.21 KB||23/03/2015|