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Report finds Bight exploration subject to rigorous assessment

20 September 2019

Joint media release with the Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley MP

An independent audit by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO released by the Government today has found the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is applying stringent environmental regulation in considering applications for oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

The report commissioned by the Liberal National Government to ensure public confidence in NOPSEMA’s processes was released today and found:

  • NOPSEMA is a highly skilled, professional and competent regulator
  • NOPSEMA has appropriate processes and procedures in place to meets its regulatory requirements under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas (Environment) Regulations 2009
  • NOPSEMA has appropriate processes and procedures in place to assess environment plans against relevant, sufficient and complete scientific and technical information

“This audit delivers on the Government’s election commitment to provide the community with an additional level of assurance about any consideration of  exploration in the Great Australian Bight,” Minister Canavan said.

“It demonstrates that Australians can be confident that offshore oil and gas activities are regulated by NOPSEMA in a way that meets our stringent environmental regulations, and that the environmental risks and potential impacts of a proposed activity are taken into account.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the maintenance of the strongest environmental safeguards and improved public understanding of NOPSEMA processes were key considerations.

“It is important that this report provides confidence to the community and confidence to the Government that NOPSEMA is considering all risks and the values of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act and supporting regulations,” Minister Ley said.

The Chief Scientist identified opportunities for NOPSEMA, titleholders and government to provide additional assurances to local communities to improve the public’s understanding of the offshore oil and gas regulatory regime.

The Ministers have directed their departments to adopt the audit findings and consider how governments and agencies can better communicate how the regulatory regime manages risks to the environment. Minister Canavan will also write to NOPSEMA and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association to request they implement the opportunities identified in the audit.

NOPSEMA will continue its assessment process for the proposed exploration activities in the Bight and make a decision independent of government, consistent with the legislation.

Ministers Canavan and Ley thanked Dr Finkel for completing the audit on time as well as the experts who advised the Chief Scientist’s deliberations. The independent audit report can be found at: https://www.industry.gov.au/OffshoreExplorationAudit

Media contact:     

Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180

Minister Ley's office 02 6277 7920