A newly revised Research Strategy has been published to provide the offshore energy industry and the research community with a clear vision on what knowledge and management challenges need to be addressed through targeted, collaborative and integrated environmental research relevant to the offshore sector.
As Australia’s independent regulator for offshore energy in Commonwealth waters, NOPSEMA uses balanced and quality research outputs to inform assessments as part of meeting its legislated functions.
And although NOPSEMA does not carry out or commission research – in collaboration with its Commonwealth government agency partners – it is in a unique position to identify key science needs and research priorities relevant to offshore energy industries.
Cameron Grebe, NOPSEMA’s Head of Environment, Renewables and Decommissioning, said the new document was designed to encourage industry and the research community together to focus on research that was needed to inform robust, evidence-based development decisions in the offshore energy sector.
Grebe said: “Offshore energy companies routinely commission monitoring and research programs to inform individual project.
“By pooling resources and working in a strategic and collaborative manner, there’s the potential to address research priorities in a much more efficient and targeted way and help support evidence-based decision-making, enhanced management outcomes and drive trust in the broader community.
“There have been some examples where a collaborative approach has been taken to fill gaps in scientific knowledge, we can see far greater opportunities and need given the growing pressures on our oceans, the competing demands for marine resource use and emerging offshore energy industries.”
Grebe highlighted that adopting standardised methodologies as well as establishing data transparency and sharing arrangements would help support common or regional research priorities across a broader range of industry activities and scientific disciplines.
NOPSEMA’s Chief Environmental Scientist Raquel Carter, who was central to the strategy’s production, said a collaborative approach was needed to better leverage the research capabilities of industry and academia to support the approvals process and management of offshore energy projects.
Carter continued: “We’ve been promoting an industry-wide collaborative approach and encouraging both the collection and sharing of fit-for purpose data to address key research priorities which we’ve identified through the course of our regulatory work.
“Addressing these needs and priorities collaboratively, especially where regional scale research effort is needed, will deliver broad benefits to regulators, industry and the wider community that would otherwise be challenging to achieve when tackled by individual companies and on individual projects.”
With a stated vision of driving a ‘collaborative approach to prioritising, funding and designing research that will deliver outputs to enhance confidence in the environmental management of offshore energy projects’, the Research Strategy also includes NOPSEMA’s goals and role in supporting that vision.
Included in the Research Strategy is a list of research priorities, based on current and emerging issues and industry activities, to help guide industry and the research community funding and scientific design decisions, and these priorities will be updated regularly.
NOPSEMA welcomes feedback on the strategy over the coming months and encourages industry and academia to continue efforts continue collaborative efforts and consider end use benefits in study design and delivery.
The two-month consultation period is now open and will close on 12 May 2023.