Offshore Petroleum Legislation, Regulation and Guidelines

Offshore petroleum legislation

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Annual Fees) Act 2006 was repealed on 1 January 2012. Titleholders are no longer required to pay annual fees under this Act from that date. However, new cost-recovery levies—the annual titles administration levy and the environment plan levy—apply to titleholders from 1 January 2012 under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Act 2003.

OPGGSA and PSLA concordance tables

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGSA) in its current form entered into force in 2008, superseding and repealing the previous offshore petroleum legislation—the Offshore Petroleum Act 2006 (OPA) and the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 (PSLA).

The OPGGSA and PSLA Concordance Tables have been developed and provided as guides that list like provisions between the OPGGSA, the OPA and the PSLA. The tables highlight the relevant sections of each Act which substantially correspond to provisions in other respective Acts. For example, the PSLA concordance table enables a user to find, in reference to a specific section in the PSLA, like provisions in the OPGGSA and OPA by referring to the relevant sections in those Acts. This assists users in translating historical documents to align with modern legislative requirements where appropriate.

Disclaimer: Please note that these tables are accurate to the best of the department's knowledge and are provided as a guide only.

Offshore petroleum regulations

Directions and conditions of title

The Schedule of Specific Requirements as to Offshore Petroleum Exploration and Production (the Schedule) was a historical set of standing directions issued under section 574 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cth) (OPGGSA).

The Commonwealth and state/Northern Territory governments had previously agreed to revoke the clauses as they were progressively incorporated into consolidated regulations or a policy decision made that the direction was no longer relevant or necessary. The final agreed remaining active clauses were incorporated into the final set of consolidated regulations, the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Resource Management and Administration) Regulations 2011 which came into force on 29 April 2011. The Schedule has therefore now been completely revoked in all offshore jurisdictional areas.

The Commonwealth also acknowledges that some titles include individual conditions that either duplicate contents of regulations, or have the Schedule attached in its entirety.

It is the Commonwealth's stated position that in circumstances where a titleholder has fully complied with requirements in the regulations, then this in turn would be viewed as adequate compliance with any corresponding title condition. Consequently, it is considered unlikely that a compliance action would be taken by the Commonwealth against the titleholder for a breach of the relevant title condition.

However, should a titleholder wish to obtain complete certainty in relation to meeting its title conditions, it is able to apply for a variation to or exemption from conditions of a title under section 264 of the OPGGSA. The Joint Authority makes the decision on this matter and it is the Commonwealth's position that if there is a regulation that substantially mirrors the core requirements or objectives of the condition on the title, it will likely agree to a variation to, or exemption from, the condition.

Administrative guidelines

The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) have reviewed, and revised, the administrative guidelines for offshore petroleum activities. Changes included a plain English re-write of all guidelines to provide a clearer and logical structure; ensuring new entrants to the industry are able to easily familiarise themselves with concepts and expectations of the Joint Authorities.

The updates also bring the guidelines into line with current Joint Authority expectations in relation to the content of applications for acreage release areas, exploration permit renewals, endorsements (for example, work program commitment suspensions, extensions, and variations), the declaration of locations, petroleum retention leases, petroleum production and infrastructure licences, and pipeline licences. In addition, the guidelines have been revised to take account of the commencement of operations by NOPTA, and the abolition of the Designated Authorities, from 1 January 2012.

The administrative guidelines are available from the NOPTA and NOPSEMA websites.

Offshore petroleum safety and environment guidelines

Offshore petroleum guidelines relating to safety, integrity and environmental management can be accessed on the NOPSEMA Guidelines webpage.

State and territory coastal waters legislation

Additional state and territory coastal waters legislation is available on the Australasian Legal Information Institute website.

Combination certificates under the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Act 1987

The Department has prepared a guideline in relation to the grant of a combination certificate under the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Act (PRRTA Act). The Guideline provides advice as to the relevant eligibility requirements and criteria, as well as the application process involved in the grant of a combination certificate.

From 1 July 2012, the PRRT applies to all petroleum projects in Australia, located both onshore and offshore. A combination certificate allows two or more petroleum production licences to be regarded as a single project for the purposes of the PRRT, subject to certain criteria being satisfied.

How is the Department involved?

Following receipt of a licence-holder’s application for a combination certificate, the Department assesses that information against the criteria before providing advice to the Minister. The Minister makes the final determination.

Related document

More information

For more information about applying for a combination certificate contact:

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