The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (Sea Dumping Act) regulates the dumping or abandonment of platforms or other man-made structures in Australian waters and from Australian vessels in any part of the sea. If you wish to abandon, move, or modify for disposal structures or materials associated with the offshore oil and gas industry, you will require a sea dumping permit.
As party to the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (the London Protocol), the Australian Government has a responsibility to meet Australia’s obligations to protect our marine environment from pollution. To achieve this, we have produced this guide on how the Sea Dumping Act applies in relation to offshore oil and gas activities.
Under the London Protocol and the Act, activities undertaken within Australian waters (including the sub-seabed) during the exploration, exploitation and offshore processing phases of offshore oil and gas production do not require a permit. During other phases, activities that are considered to be dumping or abandonment require a sea dumping permit.
Oil and gas activities that may need a sea dumping permit
The decision flowchart and description of permit types (see figure 1) may help you determine if your activity requires a sea dumping permit to proceed. Oil and gas activities that may need a sea dumping permit include:
- dumping (in this case the movement from the current location and disposal into Australian waters) of any oil and gas infrastructure associated with a platform or other man-made structure
- abandonment in-situ of most oil and gas infrastructure within Australian waters, in the location where it originally served its purpose
- placement of an artificial reef within Australian waters that includes decommissioned oil and gas infrastructure.
For each permit application, the minister (or delegate) considers the specific circumstances of each situation to determine whether the abandonment or dumping of a structure or component associated with an oil and gas platform constitutes sea dumping under the London Protocol and the Sea Dumping Act.
If you require assistance with determining whether your offshore oil and gas activity requires a sea dumping permit, please contact the sea dumping section at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I own or operate offshore oil and gas infrastructure, do I need a sea dumping permit for my proposed activity?
This decision tree is designed to assist in understanding what circumstances may trigger the requirement to apply for a sea dumping permit under the Sea Dumping Act. Please note that the list provided is not exhaustive.
- The Sea Dumping Act also applies to all Australian vessels and aircraft in any part of the sea.
Figure 1. Decision flowchart and description of sea dumping permit types for oil and gas activities.
Is your activity in Australian waters?
- If NO, you do not need to apply for a sea dumping permit (other permits may still apply e.g., under state legislation).
- If YES, then question: Is your activity within the exploration, exploitation, or offshore processing phases?
- If YES, you do not need to apply for a sea dumping permit at this time, although you may wish to consider your obligations for the future (note that other permits may still apply to your proposed activity e.g., Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006).
- If NO, you may require a sea dumping permit.
Next step: Read about the permit types to understand more about the types of activities and infrastructure that require a sea dumping permit, and which permit type to use for your application.
What sea dumping permit types do I need?
Note that your activity may require more than one permit type depending on your proposed actions.
|Type of permit||Activity requiring a permit|
Where your offshore activities involve the deliberate movement, modification or disposal of infrastructure, disposal of waste or other matter from vessels, platforms, or other man-made structures at sea.
Examples of infrastructure and activities that may require a dumping permit include:
Where you plan to leave in-situ any infrastructure in its place where it originally served its purpose including (but not limited to) platforms, or other man-made structures at sea.
Examples of infrastructure and activities that may require an abandonment permit include:
|Artificial reef permit||
In all cases where you plan to incorporate any oil and gas infrastructure into an artificial reef in Australian waters.
Activities exempt from sea dumping permit requirements:
Abandoning in-situ an export pipeline or cable (not wholly contained within a field) that will not be moved, modified or augmented in any way. This does not include flowlines, inter or intra field pipelines.
To ensure the exemption applies to your proposed activity, we recommend contacting the sea dumping section at: email@example.com.
Permit application forms and fees
The application fee for a permit to dump or abandon a platform or other man-made structure at sea is $12,700.
For more information on how to pay the fee, visit: how to apply for a sea dumping permit.
Application form for abandonment in situ of platform or other man-made structures at sea (PDF 317 KB)
Application form for abandonment in situ of platform or other man-made structures at sea (DOCX 88.4 KB)
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