The Australian offshore oil and gas industry is subject to some of the world’s most stringent and rigorous environmental regulation.

The primary legislation regulating the offshore oil and gas industry in in areas more than three nautical miles from land is the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and associated regulations.

This implements the legal framework covering all oil and gas operations in Australian waters. The OPGGS Act requires oil and gas operators to comprehensively demonstrate that all environmental risks from their activities are reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and that this risk is also at an acceptable level.

This means that the operator must justify to an independent regulator, through reasoned and supported arguments, that no additional practical measures that could reasonably be taken to further reduce risks and that the residual risk is still acceptable.

This process encourages the petroleum industry to continually improve its performance and results in standard practices that outperform many other industry standards and conventions, such as water discharge or ballast water management.

The OPGGS Act is regulated and administered by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

NOPSEMA is Australia’s independent regulator of health and safety, well integrity and environmental management for all offshore petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters, as well as in coastal waters where states have conferred relevant powers to the Commonwealth

The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) is responsible for the administration of offshore petroleum titles in Commonwealth waters under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

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