All environment plans for offshore oil and gas activities will soon be published and draft environment plans for offshore seismic and exploratory drilling activities will be open for public comment, under changes to Australian environmental regulations this week.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan announced the changes on Tuesday, stating that the new requirements were part of a suite of changes to improve consultation and increase transparency of offshore oil and gas activities.
“Australians need to be confident that oil and gas activities being carried out offshore meet our stringent environmental regulations, and that all environmental risks and impacts of the proposed activity are taken into account,” Minister Canavan said.
Members of the public will have a 30-day comment period to give feedback on the environmental management of proposed seismic and exploration drilling activities, aiming to provide a new level of accountability from the industry.
Under the changes, environment plans for all offshore activities will be published when they are submitted to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), prior to assessment.
If the environmental plan is accepted by NOPSEMA, it will be published, along with an explanation of how public comments have been considered, enabling the community to see how their concerns have been addressed.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Director for Environment, Health and Safety, Jason Medd said the new requirements were consistent with the industry’s ongoing efforts to build trust with the communities which host its activities and the broader Australian public.
“Community support for the oil and gas industry relies on public confidence in the industry’s operating standards and the manner in which it is regulated,” Mr Medd said.
“Both will be more clearly evidenced by greater transparency.”
The new regulations will come into action on 25 April. All draft environment plans submitted from that date onwards will be published on the NOPSEMA website, along with information on how to make comments on the plans.