The Australian regulator is set to increase its focus on decommissioning in order to improve oil and gas companies’ understanding of their legislative obligations to maintain and remove offshore structures, equipment and property.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has outlined in its regulatory policy that under section 572 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act), duties are placed on titleholders in relation to the maintenance and removal of structures, equipment and property brought onto title.
In the October 2019 statement of expectations from the Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, he highlighted the need for heightened oversight of titleholders’ compliance with their obligations under section 572 of the OPGGS Act.
As a result, the statement of expectations requires NOPSEMA, through its regulatory processes, to ensure that titleholders maintain structures, equipment and property in the title area used in connection with the operations authorised by the title, and to remove them when neither used, nor to be used.
“NOPSEMA will, through its compliance monitoring and enforcement activities, ensure that titleholders are appropriately planning for and executing decommissioning activities in a timely and responsible manner,” the regulator outlined.
The policy advises that maintenance requirement relates to upkeep that will ensure property is fit for purpose and is able to be removed when neither used, nor to be used, in connection with the operations.
However, NOPSEMA recognises that the removal may not always be practicable at the point where property is neither used, nor to be used.
After considering feedback from stakeholders, NOPSEMA has now finalised the regulatory policy, with it intended to assist in clarifying how the regulator will advise and promote, monitor, and enforce compliance with section 572.