Offshore Resource Exploration has its Moment in the Legislative Spotlight

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Offshore Resource Exploration has its Moment in the Legislative Spotlight

The Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016 (Cth) was introduced to the Senate last week. The Bill seeks to provide greater protection to the Great Australian Bight marine area and reliant industries from mining activities. A ban on mining activities in the Great Australian Bight marine area is proposed under s 6 of the Bill.
The Bill was introduced in response to British Petroleum’s applications to begin exploration drilling off the South Australian Coast. BP is currently awaiting environmental approvals from federal regulator National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), who has twice prior have rejected BP’s environmental plans for the project. The decision on the third plan is due at the end of this month.
The Senate referred the matter of Oil or Gas Production in the Great Australian Bight to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications earlier this year. The inquiry lapsed at dissolution. Last week the Senate re-referred the matter with the same scope of reference and the committee must issue a report on the second last sitting day in March 2017. The Inquiry is currently receiving submissions. Read more and make a submission here.

Additionally, the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Petroleum Pools and Other Measures) Bill 2016 was introduced into the House of Representatives last week making amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cth). The Bill seeks to clarify revenue apportionment of resource royalties that can give rise conflict between state and Commonwealth governments. The Bill allows for ongoing cross jurisdictional negotiation of apportionment rather than a single initial pre-development agreement between governments.

The amendments have been proposed to give effect to the Torosa agreement. The Torosa agreement involves Western Australia and the Commonwealth apportionment rights to petroleum proposed by the Browse floating LNG (FLNG) project. The current deed of agreement between WA and the Commonwealth will see an allocation of petroleum between the Commonwealth (34.6%) and the State of Western Australia (65.4%). The Minister for the Environment and Energy stated the intention of the amendments was to create a facilitative environment for Australia’s growing LNG market and offer an attractive jurisdiction for investment in future projects.

Further discussion of gas a core component of Australia’s energy policy direction here.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is seeking submissions from stakeholders on its Compliance Strategy until 14 October 2016.

 

 

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