Updates

For updates on individual Implementation Actions please visit Implementation Progress.

 

16 September 2020

The Financial Assurance Position Paper released by the Western Australian Government, outlines the Government’s proposal to adopt key provisions within the Commonwealth’s existing Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 regulatory framework that suitably align with the WA petroleum regime.

For instance, the broadening of financial assurance mechanisms and options for titleholders under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 (PGERA) as well as including the State’s ability to investigate, audit and enforce compliance with financial assurance requirements.

These financial assurance amendments will be included in a Bill amending the PGERA with subsequent amendments required for the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Environment) Regulations 2012 so that failure to maintain financial assurance is grounds for withdrawal of acceptance of an environment plan.

These legislative amendments will ensure accountability and an increased focus on environmental rehabilitation within the onshore petroleum industry.

Further detail regarding the specific legislative amendments will be provided in the Bill.

For updates on individual Implementation Actions please visit Implementation Progress.

 

10 September 2020

June 2020 Quarter Progress Update

As at 30 June 2020, five Implementation Actions (1, 12, 16, 18 and 20) have been completed, equating to 25 per cent completion status.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some delays, due to changing departmental and Government priorities, as well as measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This means that a number of actions were unable to be finalised by 30 June 2020 for the June Quarter reporting period, including the Government’s Human Health Risk Assessments Position Paper, Penalties Position Paper and Financial Assurance Position Paper, which are under review and expected to be published this year. Therefore, no individual action updates are available for the June Quarter.

Work between Western Australian Government and the CSIRO has been ongoing and is continuing to develop the new Code of Practice, which will prescribe minimum enforceable standards for hydraulic fracturing activities in Western Australia. A consultation draft of the Code of Practice is now expected to be finalised in the second half of the year.

While a number of Actions will also require legislative changes to be fully implemented, industry is still able to progress with the submission of their projects for assessment.

The new requirements for hydraulic fracturing, based on the Inquiry’s recommendations and the Government’s decisions, are publicly available in the Inquiry Report and the Government’s Implementation Plan.

An amendment to the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 regulation 2C was approved by the Executive Council on 30 June, and commenced on 8 July 2020. The amendment requires all onshore oil and gas proposals involving hydraulic fracture stimulation in Western Australia to be referred to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), by designating them as ‘proposals of a prescribed class’.

As a result, proposals involving hydraulic fracturing, within onshore petroleum titles where the hydraulic fracturing moratorium has been lifted, are required to be referred to the EPA by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS). Proponents can also self-refer proposals to the EPA.

Assessments will be undertaken in parallel with the implementation of the remaining actions, and proponents are encouraged to engage with the EPA and DMIRS to ensure they understand the new requirements.

Proponents will not be permitted to commence hydraulic fracturing for exploration until the Code of Practice has been finalised, and hydraulic fracturing for production will not be approved without the Code of Practice and until Traditional Owner and private landowner consent requirements have been implemented.

For the March Quarter update on individual Implementation Actions, please visit Implementation Progress.

 

8 July 2020

Hydraulic fracture stimulation proposals require referral to the Environmental Protection Authority

Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 have been amended to require referral of all onshore oil and gas exploration and production proposals involving hydraulic fracture stimulation to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for assessment.

In November 2018, the State Government accepted in-principle all 44 recommendations of the Independent Scientific Panel Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia 2018 (the Inquiry).

In July 2019, the State Government released its Implementation Plan, which consolidates the Inquiry’s 44 recommendations together with the Government’s Decisions into 20 implementation actions.

In accordance with Implementation Plan Action 7 and Inquiry Recommendation 34, Regulation 2C of the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 has been amended to define all onshore oil and gas exploration and production proposals involving hydraulic fracture stimulation in Western Australia as being proposals of a “prescribed class”, which will require referral to the EPA for assessment. The purpose of the amendment is to:

  • require a decision-making authority, (in this case the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) to refer any such proposal to the EPA, as soon as it has notice of a proposal that appears to be of the “prescribed class”, or
  • cause the EPA to require the proponent or the decision-making authority to refer the proposal if it has not been referred in accordance with point 1 above.

The amendment to the Regulation 2C, approved by the Executive Council on 30 June and gazetted on 7 July 2020, commences today (8 July 2020).

 

8 May 2020

March 2020 Quarter Progress Update

The Government’s Implementation Plan Actions progress update for the Quarter ending 31 March 2020 reveals completion of a further two actions, bringing the Government’s completion status to 25 per cent.

This follows the release of the Government’s Capability and Capacity for Environmental Assessment and Compliance Activities position paper (Action 20) and establishment of the Government’s Clean Energy Future Fund (CEFF) (Action 18). For further details about CEFF and information about applications for the first round of funding, see Government’s media statement: Fund to help develop clean energy projects in Western Australia.

Implementation of remaining actions is progressing, including examination and consideration of stakeholder feedback resulting from recent public consultation papers relating to Iconic Natural Heritage Places (Action 2) and Stakeholder Engagement and Consultation Guide (Action 4).  A response to stakeholder feedback for each of the papers will be published on the Implementation Plan website following due consideration by the Government.

While the Government is continuing with the implementation of remaining actions, measures introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus may impact the implementation process as well as time frames for implementation.

For updates on individual Implementation Actions please visit Implementation Progress.

 

25 March 2020

The Government has approved the publication of the Capability and Capacity for Environmental Assessment and Compliance Activities position paper.

This closes Action 20 of the Government’s Implementation Plan to determine the level of resourcing for full implementation of the existing regulatory regime, and if required, develop cost recovery to enhance environmental auditing and compliance functions of Government.

As outlined in the position paper, no changes have been proposed as the existing cost recovery mechanisms under petroleum titles and prescribed premises are sufficient for the current level of staffing required, based on current industry activity. Note that the proposed introduction of broader cost recovery under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) through separate legislative amendments, by inserting a head power for cost recovery into the EP Act and exploring models of cost recovery that will be imposed by way of regulations under the EP Act, will occur outside of the Implementation Project (see Environmental Protection Act 1986 amendments consultation).

For updates on individual Implementation Actions please visit Implementation Progress.

 

14 February 2020

December 2019 Quarter Progress Update

Today the Government updated the Implementation Plan Actions progress for the Quarter ending 31 December 2019.

Implementation of the outstanding 17 Actions is continuing to progress well.

On 10 December 2019, the WA Government released the Proposed Iconic Natural Heritage Places Public Consultation Paper for comment and feedback.

This was followed by the release of the Proposed Stakeholder Engagement and Consultation Guide Public Consultation Paper on 19 December 2019.

As outlined in the discussion paper, the aim of identifying iconic natural heritage places is to prevent potential impacts arising from direct development or proximity to increased traffic, noise or light associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Due to the State Government’s decision to lift the hydraulic fracturing moratorium on existing petroleum titles (being exploration permits, retention leases and production licences) in force on 26 November 2018; and maintain the moratorium across the rest of the State, the scope of identifying iconic natural heritage places is limited to those located within existing petroleum titles.

This means that the vast areas across the State where hydraulic fracturing is already prohibited will increase to also include additional areas that are deemed to be iconic natural heritage places within existing petroleum titles.

In addition, as outlined in the Proposed Stakeholder Engagement and Consultation Guide, a registered holder of a petroleum title within ‘an existing petroleum authority area’, will be required to develop and implement a specific hydraulic fracturing Stakeholder Engagement Strategy. This will ensure that communication and engagement with stakeholders is a priority at the earliest opportunity and throughout every stage of the lifecycle of a petroleum project which is associated with hydraulic fracturing.

In accordance with the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Environment) Regulations 2012 (the Environment Regulations), the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) requires that adequate consultation be undertaken between the operator and relevant authorities, interested persons and organisations. This consultation is to be detailed in an Environment Plan (EP), which must include a report on all consultations between the operator and relevant stakeholders, and outline ongoing communication protocols to be implemented after approval of the EP.

DMIRS assesses the EP to determine, among other things, whether or not the consultation requirements of the Environment Regulations have been adequately addressed.

For updates on individual Implementation Actions please visit Implementation Progress.

 

31 October 2019

September Quarter 2019 Update

In July 2019, the Government released its Implementation Plan. The Implementation Plan describes the actions required to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations and the Government’s Policy Decisions, which include substantive changes to the way hydraulic fracturing is regulated in the State.

These Policy Decisions include:

  • lift the hydraulic fracture stimulation moratorium on all onshore petroleum titles existing as of 26 November 2018; and maintain the ban over the South-West, Peel and Perth Metropolitan regions (Implementation Plan Action 1);
  • ban hydraulic fracture stimulation in national parks, the Dampier Peninsula, and other iconic natural heritage areas (to be defined and delineated on maps) (Implementation Plan Action 2);
  • introduce a requirement for consent of relevant Traditional Owners and private landowners before hydraulic fracture stimulation production is permitted (Implementation Plan Action 5a / 5b);
  • restore the 10 per cent royalty rate for all onshore petroleum (Implementation Plan Action 17);
  • establish a Clean Energy Future Fund (with a $9-million seed allocation), using net royalties from onshore hydraulic fracture stimulation petroleum projects, to support facilitation of clean energy developments (Implementation Plan Action 18); and
  • prohibit hydraulic fracture stimulation within 2,000 metres of gazetted Public Drinking Water Source Areas (Implementation Plan Actions 2 & 7).

To date, three Actions (1, 12 and 16) have been completed, and implementation of the remaining 17 Actions is progressing well.

Completion of Action 1 included amendments to Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Hydraulic Fracturing) Regulations 2017. The amendment regulations:

  • lifted the hydraulic fracturing moratorium on the areas of the State covered by existing Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 exploration permits, retention leases and production licences in force on 26 November 2018;
  • extended the moratorium indefinitely across the rest of the State; and
  • banned hydraulic fracturing in the Dampier Peninsula, national parks, gazetted public drinking water source areas and an area within 2,000 metres of gazetted public drinking water source areas.

These regulations ensure hydraulic fracturing will not be permitted over 98 per cent of Western Australia.

Proponents considering hydraulic fracturing on onshore petroleum titles where the hydraulic fracturing moratorium has been lifted are able to self-refer to the EPA, however assessment will be undertaken in parallel with the implementation of the remaining 17 Actions.

Proponents will not be permitted to commence hydraulic fracturing exploration until the WA Code of Practice has been developed, and hydraulic fracturing production will not be approved until Traditional Owner and private landowner consent requirements have been implemented.

For updates on individual Implementation Actions please visit Implementation Progress.


06 September 2019

Today’s gazettal of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Regulations 2019 marks completion of the Government’s Implementation Plan Action 1. Onshore petroleum titles where hydraulic fracturing moratorium has been lifted map can be accessed here

Page reviewed 16 September 2020

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