New Year Brings New Watchdogs to Australia's Offshore

Two new bodies will begin work on January 1, 2012, bringing greater consistency and efficiency to Australia's offshore petroleum regulation in Commonwealth waters – and potentially billions of dollars of benefits for the economy.

The creation of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) follows recommendations by the Productivity Commission and the Montara Inquiry.

NOPSEMA is an expansion of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) and regulates safety, environmental management and day-to-day operations of petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities. NOPTA will make recommendations on offshore titles and administer them. Both are based in Perth with offices in Melbourne.

The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, said these two bodies have wide-ranging responsibilities to ensure the industry is among the world’s best and safest and will reinforce Perth as the major oil and gas centre for South East Asia.

"The Montara Commission of Inquiry and the Productivity Commission reports pointed to the need for one, coordinated national body to have responsibility for regulating offshore activities so that preventable risks to the safety of workers and the environment can be mitigated in the future," said Minister Ferguson.

The creation of NOPSEMA means a more streamlined approach to ensuring the safety of people and the environment offshore.

"The Productivity Commission said more consistent and efficient regulation could potentially bring billions of dollars of benefits for the Australian economy. At the same time NOPSEMA and NOPTA will give the community greater confidence in an industry that does so much for Australian jobs, exports and prosperity."

The existing NOPSA Board becomes the new NOPSEMA Board, along with the appointment of Mr Gerard Early. Mr Early is a former deputy secretary at the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and has extensive experience in environmental management and regulation. Three NOPSA Board members whose terms were nearing expiry have also been reappointed:

  • Dr. Lynne Chester, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, Undergraduate Curriculum Co-ordinator, School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney
  • Dr. Michael Ollis, retired Vice President, Asset Team Leader, BHP Billiton Petroleum
  • Mr. Anthony Pooley, Director, Principle Seven risk consulting and Adjunct Associate Professor on safety-risk management at the University of South Australia

The Board will focus on inherent safety in design, improving industry-performance measures, the implications of ageing facilities, drilling, rapid industry growth, legislation and regulation.


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