Summary of What's New in 2014
The year 2014 brings a number of regulatory changes for Australia’s offshore petroleum industry that will affect domestic and international investors, operators and owners. Key changes include:
Streamlining of Environmental Approvals
A proposal to create a one stop shop for offshore petroleum environmental assessments (Streamlining Proposal) is expected to be approved by the Minister for the Environment at the end of February 2014. Currently, environmental assessment of offshore petroleum activities occurs at both a State and Commonwealth level. Under the Streamlining Proposal NOPSEMA would be the sole environmental regulator of offshore petroleum activities.
The Streamlining Proposal is in response to several independent reviews (including the Productivity Commission's Report on Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration dated September 2013) recommending streamlining of the State and Commonwealth regulatory requirements. Consultation on the key documents closed on 20 December 2013. A supplementary report and, if necessary, a revised program taking into account the comments received will soon be provided to the Minister for the Environment for approval.
Amendments to Environment Regulations
Proposed amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations), additional to those under the Streamlining Proposal, are expected to be finalised by February 2014. The amendments seek to improve and clarify the regulation of environmental management of offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities.
The following are proposed key amendments to the Environment Regulations.
Consultation on the amendments closed on 20 December 2013 and submissions will be taken into account when finalising the amendments in February 2014.
Amendments to Cash Bidding Model
The cash bidding model under the OPGGSA was amended with effect from 14 December 2013.
The following are a number of key changes that have been implemented to the cash bidding model.
Consultation on Energy White Paper
The Department of Industry (DoI) has released an 'Energy White Paper - Issues Paper: to inform preparation of a White Paper (December 2013)' (Issues Paper) for public comment.
The Issues Paper is the beginning of consultation on the Energy White Paper that will be developed by DoI. The Issues Paper outlines the scope of the Energy White Paper, maps links to other related policy and regulatory developments, and seeks comment on issues to be considered in a Green Paper that will outline possible policy approaches.
Comments on the Issues Paper should be sent to the DoI by 7 February 2014.
The resulting Green Paper is expected to be released for consultation in May 2014, with the final Energy White Paper expected to be completed in September 2014.
More information on the Issues Paper can be found in our Legal Insight 'New Energy White Paper Process Commences'.
Revised National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies
A revised National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies is due to come into force mid 2014. The revised National Plan results from a significant review and lessons learned from major Australian and international incidents.
Cessation of Registration Fees under OPGGSA
Registration fees under the OPGGSA were abolished effective from 1 November 2013.
Fees have now been replaced with application fees reflecting the costs incurred in undertaking NOPTA’s relevant work. Importantly, there is now a flat application fee for the approval of a transfer or dealing (rather than a fee based on the value of the permit).
Increased Safety Case and Environment Plan Levies
On 1 January 2014 the safety case levies rose by 13% and the environment plan levies rose by 20%.
The increase was affected by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Amendment (Safety Case and Environment Plan Levies) Regulation 2013 No. 273 (Cth) which amended the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Regulations (2004) 2004 No. 315 (Cth).
This publication/newsletter is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting a lawyer.