When a company commences an offshore petroleum activity, NOPSEMA will conduct regular inspections of the activity to ensure the company is complying with the OPGGS Act, its regulations and the accepted permissioning documents.
NOPSEMA plans inspections in consideration of the risks specific to the petroleum activity, the performance and compliance history of the company in waters regulated by NOPSEMA, and any applicable industry-wide incident trends. Where necessary, NOPSEMA deploys inspectors with little to no notice; for example, to investigate reported incidents or workforce complaints.
When NOPSEMA inspectors complete an inspection, NOPSEMA provides the company with a detailed report of its findings, conclusions and recommendations. Recommendations generally identify a timeframe for matters to be addressed and require a response. In subsequent inspections, NOPSEMA inspectors will also evaluate if the company has taken the necessary actions to address recommendations but may request such actions be provided to it before this time.
In 2018–19, NOPSEMA completed 176 inspections covering 120 facilities and 40 petroleum activities from which it issued 1214 recommendations (an average of 6.9 recommendations per inspection).
NOPSEMA inspectors completed 42 environmental management inspections covering 40 petroleum activities from which it issued 244 recommendations. NOPSEMA programs its environmental management inspections in consideration of those activities that posed the highest risk; new titleholders with limited or no experience in the jurisdiction; exploration and development activities involving heavier crude oils; and seismic exploration activities overlapping areas or habitats critical to the survival of a threatened and migratory species or requiring specific controls to manage interactions with socio-economic values or sensitivities. Examples of common scope items for environmental management inspections included timely source control, arrangements for the use of dispersants, invasive marine species, planned waste discharges and capability to implement plans for oil spill monitoring.
NOPSEMA inspectors completed 124 OHS inspections covering 120 facilities (including pipelines) from which it issued 939 recommendations. NOPSEMA programmed its OHS inspections in consideration of a number of factors including the facility type. At minimum, NOPSEMA sought to inspect production platforms and MODUs with personnel on board every six months and new mobile facilities by the third week of drilling activity or the sixth week for other activities.
NOPSEMA sought to inspect diving and multi-purpose vessels opportunistically as the vessels may be classed as ‘facilities’ for a short period of time making them difficult to access. Examples of common scope items for OHS inspections included targeted elements of third party equipment and services, assets and aging facilities, loss of containment, safe isolation of plant and equipment and general occupational health hazards.
NOPSEMA inspectors also completed 10 well integrity inspections covering 50 activities from which it issued 31 recommendations. NOPSEMA programs its well integrity inspections in consideration of the titleholder’s level of experience and resources; how many well activities were being undertaken; and the type, pressure, water depth and complexity of the well(s). Examples of common scope items for well integrity inspections included targeted elements of third party well testing equipment on MODUs, aligning with OHS inspections on the same topic.