Offshore petroleum activities
Exploration activities and planning
Any organisation engaged in offshore exploration or exploitation requires a management plan.
Oil and gas
Organisations engaged in offshore exploration or exploitation activities, or “duty holders”, must submit a management plan to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
Management plans include:
- a safety case
- a well operations management plan
- an environment plan.
When creating a management plan, the duty holder must:
- review all legislative requirements and guidance
- identify risks and stakeholders (i.e. “relevant persons”) and the particular issues of interest to those persons.
The duty holder must:
- valuate the risks
- identify the necessary controls
- maintain communication with the stakeholders throughout the life of an activity.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's role
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is an important stakeholder for all offshore exploration and exploitation activities between the Australian mainland and the limit of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
AMSA must be consulted by all offshore exploration and exploitation title holders. AMSA’s interests include:
- safety of navigation
- environmental safety and incident preparedness
- survey and certification.
Safety of navigation
Shipping traffic data
AMSA can provide historical shipping traffic data to assist duty holders to assess risk, and can offer guidance to help reduce the risk of collision.
At least 4 weeks’ notice is needed for all requests for data.
Requests for traffic density plots can be provided without cost. However, requests requiring raw data or analysis will incur a fee.
All requests must include:
- a description of the area concerned, including bounding Latitudes and Longitudes
- the name of the drilling or survey activity
- specific permit block numbers (eg. WA-28-L)
- the name of any vessels involved in the activity (including drilling vessels, survey vessels, pipe laying vessels and other support vessels)
- Timeframe for the proposed activities (eg. start and end dates or start date and duration of the activity).
All requests should be submitted to Navigation Safety for offshore activities via the contact AMSA page.
Marking and avoidance of man-made structures offshore
Adequately marking offshore man-made structures is vital for vessel safety and the safety of structures and their personnel.
Authorities may consider establishing exclusion or safety zone/s and/or areas to be avoided to prohibit or restrict vessels from entering the proximity of off-shore structures.
Details of such zones can be found on relevant nautical charts.
Authorities can also use Maritime Safety Information (MSI) to circulate advice to shipping on installed aids to navigation.
This information can also be published as Notices to Mariners.
Preventing collisions – vessel or facility?
The Navigation Act does not apply where a vessel is classified as a “facility”.
Generally speaking, a vessel will be a “facility” when it is being used, or being prepared to be used, in petroleum activities.
Advice may be required from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
Environmental safety and incident preparedness
The National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies (National Plan) sets out national arrangements, policies and principles for the management of maritime environmental emergencies.
It provides for a comprehensive response to maritime environmental emergencies regardless of how costs might be attributed or recovered.
The National Plan includes five core components:
- governance and policy to ensure accountability, risk assessment, engaging with stakeholders and to provide clear strategic direction
- prevention of marine pollution through the delivery of a system for the management of maritime casualties
- preparedness for marine pollution incidents through a tiered approach to contingency planning, training and development of response personnel, and maintenance of response assets and services
- response to marine pollution incidents through the implementation of the National Plan arrangements
- recovery of the community and the environment from the impacts of marine pollution.
Further guidance can be obtained from:
- the Advisory note for the offshore petroleum industry with respect to oil spill contingency plans and environmental plans
- Marine Environment Protection (via the contact AMSA page).
Survey and certification
AMSA administers the Navigation Act 2012 which generally applies to regulated Australian vessels and foreign vessels, including vessels engaged in offshore exploration and exploitation activities when the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 does not apply to those vessels.
Elements of the safety case may rely upon ongoing certification.
For more information, please contact Port State Control via the contact AMSA page.
The use of Offshore Renewable Energy Installations (OREI) in Australian waters is in its infancy.
A nationally consistent regulatory framework is being developed, with AMSA advising on the selection of sites to be released for possible development as well as the potential impacts on the safety of navigation associated with construction and operation.
Greenhouse gas storage
The role of AMSA in greenhouse gas storage is principally to provide advice to the Australian Government on sites to be explored.
In particular AMSA provides advice on potential impacts on the safety of navigation associated with activities such as:
- the operations involved in the marine storage of carbon dioxide.
- AMSA's Vessel Track Data Disclosure and Dissemination Policy
- Automatic Identification System (AIS) as an aid to navigation
- Contact the Nautical & Regulation Section via e-mail
- Notices to Mariners
- National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA)
- Advisory note for the offshore petroleum industry with respect to oil spill contingency plans and environmental plans [PDF: 240Kb]
- contact AMSA