Australia’s Commonwealth waters are vital to the country's wellbeing. They contain protected marine areas and world-class biodiversity. These waters are also an important source of oil and gas. This strategic assessment protects the unique plants and animals while streamlining the approval process for oil and gas activities. It was approved and finalised in February 2014.
Strategic assessments are a collaboration between the Australian Government and an assessment partner. This collaboration allows for a big-picture approach to safeguarding protected matters from the impacts of development over a long time.
The Offshore Petroleum in Commonwealth Waters strategic assessment on this page is finalised. This means the Environment minister agreed to a program for the strategic assessment partners to protect these protected matters from oil and gas development in Commonwealth marine waters.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the former Department of Industry completed a strategic assessment of the environmental management authorisation process for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities. The strategic assessment aimed to streamline activities in Commonwealth waters to:
- deliver faster approvals
- remove unnecessary duplication in regulatory processes
- maintain the integrity and standards of the environmental assessment process.
In most cases, Commonwealth waters extend from 3 nautical miles from the coastline out to 200 nautical miles. Offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in these waters were previously regulated under the:
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act)
- associated Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (OPGGS Environment Regulations).
The strategic assessment was completed according to section 146 of the EPBC Act.
On 24 October 2013, an agreement was signed to undertake a strategic assessment of the environmental management authorisation process for offshore oil and gas activities. The parties to the agreement were:
- the Commonwealth Environment minister
- the Minister for Industry
- the CEO of NOPSEMA.
The strategic assessment agreement describes the process under the EPBC Act.
Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals Strategic Assessment agreement (PDF 194.3 KB)
Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals Strategic Assessment agreement (DOCX 59.42 KB)
Terms of reference
The terms of reference for a strategic assessment detail how the strategic assessment partner is to assess the impacts of their proposed development activities. This strategic assessment agreement contains the terms of reference for the strategic assessment.
The public comment period for the draft program report and draft strategic assessment report ran from 22 November to 20 December 2013.
The Program Report - Strategic Assessment of the environmental management authorisation process for petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities administered by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the Program) was completed in February 2014.
Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals Program report (PDF 1.74 MB)
Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals Program report (DOCX 2.14 MB)
A Strategic Assessment report was prepared in February 2014 to assess the impacts on protected matters.
View the Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals Strategic Assessment report (PDF).
A Strategic Assessment supplementary report was completed in February 2014 to address comments received during the public consultation period.
Read the Streamlining Offshore Petroleum Environmental Approvals Strategic Assessment supplementary report (PDF).
On 7 February 2014, the Environment minister endorsed the Program under part 10 of the EPBC Act.
Endorsement notice for the Program to streamline offshore petroleum approvals (PDF 190.3 KB)
Endorsement notice for the Program to streamline offshore petroleum approvals (DOC 95 KB)
On 27 February 2014, the minister approved offshore oil and gas activities in Commonwealth waters under the Program, except for a list of excluded actions.
These activities include any that:
- have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment on Commonwealth land
- are taken in any area of the sea or seabed that's part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975
- have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, or on the national heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef
- are taken in the Antarctic
- involve injection or storage of greenhouse gas.
Final approval decision for undertaking petroleum and greenhouse gas activity actions (PDF 1001.48 KB)
Final approval decision for undertaking petroleum and greenhouse gas activity actions (DOC 92.5 KB)
NOPSEMA considers new projects under an Offshore Project Proposal (OPP) process. This delivers outcomes similar to the environmental impact statement assessment process under the EPBC Act.
Titleholders must prepare environment plans for their activities. This process must include consulting with all relevant parties. Where relevant, these parties include the:
- Australian Fisheries Management Authority
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority
- Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
- Department of Defence
- Department of Foreign Affairs
- Director of National Parks.
Read the agency consultation guidance document (PDF) on the NOPSEMA website when writing or updating an environment plan. There may be other agencies to consult, depending on the activity.
Every 5 years until December 2040, an independent body reviews NOPSEMA's performance in implementing the Program.
Read the latest review on the NOPSEMA website.
Get in touch
Contact our Referrals Gateway team:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 1800 423 135 between 9 am and 5 pm Canberra time.
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: +61 8 6188 8700 between 8:30 am and 5 pm AWST.