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Inquiry into the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024

Opening Statement

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which I’m joining you from, which is the Ngunnawal and Ngambri People, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Thank you very much to the Committee for the opportunity to provide a short opening statement on behalf of Australian offshore oil and gas producers.

Australian Energy Producers welcomes the Government’s recognition that regulations need to be clarified to provide certainty for titleholders.

The Australian oil and gas industry is committed to comprehensive and meaningful consultation with Traditional Owners and communities that may be impacted by our operations.

A number of court decisions over the past 15 months have highlighted ambiguities in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations that have led to a significant increase in the consultation required and the time taken by NOPSEMA in its assessment of Environmental Plans.

NOPSEMA has canvassed the impact of these delays on industry and on stakeholders at length in its recent Senate Estimates appearances.

NOPSEMA has said that in addition to creating “consultation fatigue” for many titleholders and Traditional Owners, the uncertainty has also significantly increased the workload of NOPSEMA, resulting in a significant backlog of EPs awaiting acceptance and unprecedented delays in project approvals.

This has delayed gas supply to contracted customers here in Australia and in Asia, and impacted decommissioning and carbon capture and storage projects.

As the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill outlines, Schedule 2, Part 2, of the Bill is necessary to enable anticipated changes to the regulations to clarify consultation requirements.

These potential regulatory changes are currently being considered by Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) following recent public consultation.

As we note in our submission, clarification of the intended operation of the regulations is urgently needed to provide certainty to industry and stakeholders, while ensuring meaningful consultation.

Safety amendments in the Bill

In relation to the safety aspects of this Bill, Australian Energy Producers support the general intent of the amendments to the Act to improve safety outcomes for Australia’s offshore workforce.

The safety and wellbeing of the thousands of men and women who work on and around offshore oil and gas facilities is of the utmost importance for our members. Our industry works closely with state and federal governments, regulators and unions to ensure we are continually improving and updating our practices.

Our submission to this inquiry identifies a number of areas where the Bill would benefit from minor amendments and clarifications.

In closing, Australian Energy Producers urges the Committee to support the Bill and recommend the Senate pass the Bill as soon as possible to facilitate the regulatory changes needed to restore certainty and clarity for NOPSEMA’s decision-making.

Thank you.

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