Petroleum safety zones

On the 1st of 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)

Petroleum safety zones are specified areas surrounding petroleum wells, structures or equipment which vessels or classes of vessel are prohibited from entering or being present in. Administration of these provisions in Commonwealth Waters was previously undertaken by the Designated Authorities on behalf of the Commonwealth.

NOPSEMA’s role in Part 6.6 of the OPGGS Act involves assessment of applications for:

  • the prohibition of vessels from entering or being present in a specified area (the petroleum safety zone) surrounding the petroleum well, structure or equipment, via a notice published in the Gazette by NOPSEMA

  • written consent for vessels to enter and be present in a petroleum 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 as shown in the figure below):

Map of Victorian Area to be Avoided

 Key features of NOPSEMA’s approach to administration include:

  • only considering safety zones for petroleum wells, structures or items of equipment as provided for in Section 616 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.

NOPSEMA does not have a legislated role regarding alleged infringements of petroleum safety zones. NOPSEMA provides a reporting template to enable titleholders and facility operators to capture and pass on relevant information to “authorised persons” (Australian Federal Police, State or Territory Police, Defence Force, or Customs).

This information may assist authorised persons in exercising their powers under Division 5 of Part 6.6 of the OPGGS Act. In circumstances where an alleged infringement of a petroleum safety zone 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.

Completed application forms should be emailed to: submissions@nopsema.gov.au

Keeping you informed

If you would like to be kept informed about publication of petroleum safety zone administration documents or the gazettal of notices establishing petroleum safety zones and authorisations to enter the ATBA you can subscribe by emailing safetyzones@nopsema.gov.au. 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 privacy@nopsema.gov.au