During 2018–19 the NOPSEMA Ministerial Advisory Board held four meetings, and provided regular written reports to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. In January 2019 I had the pleasure of welcoming two new experienced board members – Ms Anthea Tinney PSM and Mr Christopher Blackmore to the board and then received confirmation in March of the extension of Mr Ken Fitzpatrick’s membership for a further three years. This provides the Board with a full complement of relevant skills.
Throughout the year the Board provided advice and feedback on a variety of matters to the Minister and the NOPSEMA CEO, covering a broad range of topics from regulatory management to industry performance.
The Board has paid close attention to the issues surrounding the safe and responsible operation of ageing infrastructure and the processes for the transfer of assets to ensure the capability and responsibilities of new operators are clearly understood. It has also focused on reports from NOPSEMA with respect to ensuring the ongoing well safety of wells that have not yet been plugged and abandoned in Australian waters.
The Board recognises the importance of the on-facility Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and is pleased to see NOPSEMA has established a regular forum to meet with, and listen to, these representatives. The establishment of a hot line and the protocol of holding separate meeting with HSRs when inspecting facilities is now in place. The HSR Training sessions are an important part of capability development of this group and the Board is pleased that NOPSEMA recognises the importance of its attendance at these sessions.
NOPSEMA staff have continued to improve their wider stakeholder engagement and, using their improved website and “The Regulator” publications, has increased the transparency of learning for all from incidents and their “find one fix many” initiatives.
The amendments to the Environment Regulations to increase the transparency of offshore oil and gas environment plans became effective as of 25 April 2019 and in anticipation of these changes the Board was pleased to note the early agreement between NOPSEMA and two proponents to commence their approvals processes as if these regulations were in place.This has meant the transition to the new procedures has been rapid and the proponents have engaged in a more transparent consultation process.
The Board has received regular updates from NOPSEMA on its engagement with the International Regulators’ Forum (IRF) and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) as learning from others and anticipating regulatory changes that may be needed due to the challenges with, for example, ageing assets and the implementation of Industry 4.0-based processes. It welcomes the meeting of the IRF in Perth in 2020.