May 2016

Improved transparency in Joint Authority processes

The 'Operating Protocols for Offshore Petroleum Joint Authorities and supporting institutions' was made publicly available this week. This is expected to assist in enhancing transparency of the offshore petroleum regime and related decision making processes.

The 'Operating Protocols for Offshore Petroleum Joint Authorities and supporting institutions' (the Protocol) provides a high level framework and clarifies the roles and functions of the Joint Authority, the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA), the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and other stakeholders.

Importantly, the Protocol outlines the timeframes associated with decisions on titles as recommended by recent reviews. The timeframes contained in the Joint Authority Protocol are also intended to provide guidance to applicants and titleholders to assist with planning.

Guidance for prior usage right petroleum titleholders

A new guideline and application form is now available to provide guidance to holders of prior usage right petroleum titles.

Prior usage rights are petroleum titles that overlap Commonwealth marine reserves, but were granted prior to establishment of the marine reserve. A register of prior usage right titles is available on the NOPTA website. The 'Offshore Petroleum Guideline: Prior Usage Rights' will be a reference for titleholders applying to renew or extend the term of prior usage right titles.  The Guideline details the process to seek the consent of the Minister for the Environment as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) subsection 359(3).
The new guideline was developed after it was identified that this specific requirement of the EPBC Act affecting a small group of petroleum titles had been overlooked. Retrospective legislation commenced on 1 March 2016 to ensure validity of all past Joint Authority decisions to grant a renewal or extension to the title term for a prior usage right title without consent of the Minister for the Environment. The Offshore Petroleum Guideline: Prior Usage Rights and updated NOPTA forms - referencing the EPBC Act s359(3) requirement - will ensure that all parties are aware of this requirement in future. Further background is available on the NOPTA website.

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The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science helps shape Australia's future economy through a strong industry and resource sector, science, learning and discovery. Together with the wider portfolio, we are working to build more competitive industries, accelerate productivity growth and secure Australia's prosperity.
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