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Offshore Infrastructure Regulator

On 2 June 2022, NOPSEMA acquired the functions of the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator when the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act) entered into force. 

The Offshore Infrastructure Regulator has responsibility for overseeing work health and safety, environmental management and infrastructure integrity for offshore infrastructure activities.

The Offshore Infrastructure Regulator is also providing specialist technical advice to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment and Water to support the assessment of offshore renewable energy proposals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Proponents are encouraged to engage with the Regulator early on in the project planning phase. If you would like further information about the regime or wish to clarify regulatory requirements contact offshorerenewables@oir.gov.au

The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure framework provides a licensing scheme to enable the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore renewable energy and offshore electricity infrastructure projects. The framework applies to offshore locations from three nautical miles off the coast to the boundary of Australia’s exclusive economic zone, with coastal waters remaining the responsibility of the adjacent State and Northern Territory governments. The framework upholds the principle of shared use of the marine environment providing regulatory and investment certainty through security of tenure and protections for offshore infrastructure.

Under the framework, the Minister for Energy makes all licensing decisions. This includes declaring areas suitable for offshore renewable energy infrastructure, both at a commercial scale and for research and development of new and emerging technologies. The declaration of an offshore area is informed through consultation with stakeholders including existing marine users, State and Territory Governments and Australian Government agencies with responsibilities in the marine area and the community. Further information about declaring suitable areas is available at dcceew.gov.au. 

The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 establishes the Offshore Infrastructure Registrar (the Registrar), who is responsible for administering the licensing scheme, including assessing licence applications, and making recommendations to the Minister for Energy. The allocation of licences in a declared area is merit-based and includes an assessment of technical and financial capability and the overall suitability of the proposed project. Staff within the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator assist the Registrar. 

Prior to commencing offshore infrastructure activities, a licence holder will also be required to submit a management plan to the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator for assessment. Management plans will contain details about the operational aspects of a project and content will vary according to the licence and type of project.

Regulatory process map

Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Framework

 

Further information about offshore electricity infrastructure legislative framework is available at industry.gov.au.

Legislation
Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 
Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Consequential Amendments) Act 2021
Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Regulations 2022

 

The functions of the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator will be fully cost recovered through a combination of fees and levies collected from regulated entities. A fully cost recovered regime allows the Regulator to deliver high quality regulatory services and ensure the costs of administering the regulatory framework are borne by industry.

Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Act 2021 
Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Regulations 2022 

Information about the arrangements for cost recovery including financial modelling and assumptions that underpin fees and levies is available in the Cost Recovery Implementation Statement (CRIS).

Offshore wind

Offshore wind energy is harnessed by taking advantage of the force of sea winds. The wind turns the blades of a turbine around a rotor spinning a generator and creating electricity. For more information see the offshore wind energy brochure.

The global offshore wind sector has undergone rapid expansion in recent years with major advances in technology and cost reductions, making offshore wind an increasingly competitive option for large scale energy generation. Australia possesses world class offshore wind resources with the potential to attract significant investment. See the supply and demand potential for offshore wind energy in Australia for further insights.

Wave and tidal power

Wave power transports energy by ocean surface waves and captures that energy for electricity generation, water desalination, or the pumping of water. Tidal power is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into useful forms of power—namely electricity. Wave and tidal power technologies have received some support but are yet to attract the same level of investment and technological advancement as offshore wind.

The offshore renewables environmental approvals guidance has been developed guidance to assist stakeholders in understanding interactions between the licensing and environmental approvals processes of the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Guidance to build stakeholders' understanding of the licensing scheme and regulatory requirements will be available on the Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) website in the coming weeks.

The Offshore Infrastructure Regulator, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, and the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner jointly convened a meeting of senior industry and government representatives in Melbourne. The meeting communique is available here.

Page last updated: November 2, 2022 9:05am