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Stakeholder engagement

Minister

The NOPSEMA Board is constituted separately to NOPSEMA in order to provide independent advice to the NOPSEMA CEO, relevant state and territory Ministers and the responsible Commonwealth Minister.

The Chair and NOPSEMA CEO did not have the opportunity to meet with the Hon Matthew Canavan MP, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia during the reporting period.

NOPSEMA CEO

Mr Smith attended and participated in all Board meetings during the reporting period. At each of its meetings the CEO provided an update on corporate governance and risk issues arising during the preceding quarter, data on industry and NOPSEMA’s performance, and recent and forthcoming changes to the legislation and regulations administered by NOPSEMA

Focus areas

Based on its deliberations, the Board provided general advice to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia following each meeting. This included information on the following topics:

Decommissioning and late life asset transfers

The Board remains concerned regarding the Federal Government’s financial exposure

to matters relating to decommissioning and the oversight of late life assets. Although the transfer of title is a matter for the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA), the ability of title holders to divest all responsibility for the safety and environmental performance of ageing assets is a matter of concern to the Board,

especially when it involves the sale of assets to financially (and perhaps technically) less capable owners. The Board understands these challenges are being considered jointly by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, (DIIS), NOPTA and NOPSEMA with a view to identifying

potential policy remedies which may include legislative amendments. The NOPSEMA Board will be interested to see the outcome of this consideration that are due later in 2019.

Amendment to Environment Regulations

The Board was pleased the amendments to the Environment Regulations to increase the transparency of offshore oil and gas environment plans became effective as of 25 April. From this date draft environment plans submitted to NOPSEMA will be published prior to regulatory assessment, and a 30 day public comment period will apply to environment plans for seismic surveys and exploratory drilling.

Stakeholder engagement

In August 2018, a referral was provided by the NOPSEMA CEO seeking the Board’s advice on stakeholder engagement.

NOPSEMA has responded to the Board’s recommendations and has completed the first of a number of updates to its website and published new guidance to facilitate increased transparency in the environment plan assessment process. The Board is pleased with the response to the referral and believes NOPSEMA has significantly improved its engagement and is balancing its stakeholder engagement without compromising its regulatory independence.

The Board has also discussed ways in which NOPSEMA can demonstrate how it adds value and improve community understanding of its decisions. The Board agrees that transparency of NOPSEMA’s processes is extremely important and

remains supportive of NOPSEMA’s efforts to improve transparency and consultation through its ongoing activities with the Community and Environment Reference Group (CERG) and Transparency Taskforce.

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) facilitated a roundtable meeting with the petroleum and seafood industries in November 2018, with presentations from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), DIIS, and NOPSEMA explaining the similarities and differences between how both industries are regulated. The Board has heard anecdotally that significant cultural and communication challenges remain in getting better alignment between these two industries over the long term. Further work is to be progressed and the Board will continue to monitor progress, noting the positive efforts being made to improve engagement and collaboration between these two critical industries.

Cross Industry Collaboration

In July 2018, the Chair and NOPSEMA CEO appeared before the inquiry into the work, health and safety of workers in the offshore petroleum industry, undertaken by the Senate Education and Employment

References Committee. Two major themes were raised through the Inquiry which were

  1. the role of, and engagement with, Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and
  2. the application of enforcement mechanisms, with particular focus on prosecutions.

The Board was pleased that in June 2019, NOPSEMA convened a Forum for Health and Safety Representatives. The forum was facilitated through a tripartite organising committee chaired by NOPSEMA with representation from DIIS, the workforce

(via the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union), and industry (via the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and Safer Together). The Forum was considered a successful event and the planning committee will continue to provide updates via the NOPSEMA website and the Regulator magazine.

Liaison with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA)

In August 2018, the Chair and NOPSEMA CEO met with the APPEA Board Chair Ms Zoe Yujnovich and then APPEA CEO Dr Malcolm Roberts to discuss APPEA’s role in safety matters and the expansion of the

Safer Together industry initiative. During that meeting APPEA reiterated their commitment to ongoing safety improvements by industry, while acknowledging that the Safer Together initiative was yet to mature in the offshore space, with its focus predominately onshore since its founding 2014. Other matters discussed with APPEA included community engagement by multi-client seismic survey companies and the entry of new market operators through acquisition of late life assets.

The year ahead

Taking into account its functions under the OPGGS Act and allowing for any ministerial and CEO requests for specific advice during the coming year, the Advisory Board’s work program includes:

  • participating in the independent audit of NOPSEMA’s consideration of exploration in the Great Australian Bight
  • continuing to monitor how industry is working together to embed lessons learned, refresh the safety culture of the whole offshore workforce and prepare for the growing need to decommission offshore infrastructure
  • continuing to monitor industry performance, including analysis of available data to encourage better leading indicators and increased transparency in relation to process safety, safety culture, environmental management and hydrocarbon releases
  • ongoing advice to the Minister as required
  • ongoing advice to the CEO at Advisory Board meetings and out of session.

Board membership and attendance

During the reporting period the term of Mr Ken Fitzpatrick was extended until 14 March 2022 and new members Ms Anthea Tinney and Mr Christopher Blackmore were appointed, with effect from 7 January 2019 until 6 January 2022.

There were four meetings during the reporting period, attendance is indicated in the following table:

Name

22 August

2018

Meeting 27

28 November

2018

Meeting 28

12 March

2019

Meeting 29

12 June

2019

Meeting 30

Ms Erica Smyth

Attended

Attended

Attended

Attended

Dr James Limerick

Attended

Attended

Attended

Attended

Ms Trish Kerin

Attended

Attended

Attended

Apology

Mr Ken Fitzpatrick

Attended

Attended

Attended

Attended

Mr Anthony Evans

Attended

Attended

Attended

Attended

Prof Melinda Hodkiewicz

Attended

Attended

Attended

Attended

Ms Anthea Tinney

N/A

N/A

Attended

Attended

Mr Christopher Blackmore

N/A

N/A

Attended

Attended

It is the Board’s practice that a senior representative of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science attends meetings as an observer to ensure there are effective communications between the Board and the Department and that policy issues and their priority are well understood.