Safety zones

Safety zones are specified areas surrounding petroleum or greenhouse gas wells, structures or equipment which vessels or classes of vessel are prohibited from entering or being present in.

On 1 January 2012, NOPSEMA commenced administration of petroleum safety zones as provided for in Chapter 6, Part 6.6 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act). On 28 April 2020, NOPSEMA commenced administration of greenhouse gas safety zones. 

NOPSEMA's role involves assessment of safety zone applications for:

  • the prohibition of vessels from entering or being present in a specified area (the safety zone) surrounding the petroleum or greenhouse gas well, structure or equipment, via a notice published in the Gazette by NOPSEMA
  • written consent for vessels to enter and be present in a safety zone
  • written authorisation for a vessel to enter and be present in "the area to be avoided" (ATBA), a large defined area in the Bass Strait detailed in schedule 2 to the OPGGS Act.

Key features of NOPSEMA's approach include:

  • only considering safety zones for petroleum or greenhouse gas wells, structures or items of equipment as provided for in Sections 616 and 617 of the OPGGS Act
  • formal processes incorporating decision making criteria and timeframes
  • a requirement for applicants to demonstrate effective consultation with parties which may be directly impacted
  • a mechanism for interested parties to be informed of notices being gazetted.

When NOPSEMA receives a notification and/or a report of a potential breach of the safety zone provisions, it will commence an investigation and consider whether any enforcement action is required. Where a potential breach of safety zone provisions requires the facility emergency response plan to be implemented, the operator must notify and report the event to NOPSEMA as a dangerous occurrence in accordance with clause 82 of schedule 3 to the OPGGS Act.

A range of agencies have a role in enforcing petroleum safety zones (PSZs). NOPSEMA provides a reporting template to enable titleholders and facility operators to capture and pass on relevant information to "authorised persons" e.g., Australian Federal Police, State or Territory Police, Defence Force, or Border Force. This information may assist authorised persons in exercising their powers.

Completed application and reporting forms should be emailed to:

If you would like to be kept informed about publication of safety zone administration documents or the gazettal of notices establishing petroleum or greenhouse gas safety zones and authorisations to enter the ATBA you can subscribe by emailing Please include your first name, surname, preferred email address, position, company and mobile phone or other contact details as appropriate.

NOPSEMA will not use or disclose your personal information for any other purpose without your consent; unless certain permitted situations exist under the Privacy Act 1988, or it is required or authorised by another Australian law. NOPSEMA will not send your personal information overseas.

Further information about NOPSEMA’s privacy practices can be found in NOPSEMA’s APP Privacy Policy. If you have an enquiry or a complaint about your privacy, or would like to access or correct your personal information please contact NOPSEMA’s Privacy Contact Officer on 08 6188 8700 or by email at

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