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Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Page: 6922


Mrs MARINO (ForrestAssistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories) (11:07): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019 amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the OPGGS Act) to enable title administration and regulation of a greenhouse gas storage formation that straddles the boundary between state and Northern Territory coastal waters and Commonwealth waters, as well as to enhance the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Environmental Management Authority's (NOPSEMA's) ability to respond fully during an oil spill emergency.

The recently announced National Hydrogen Strategy highlights the economic opportunity the hydrogen export industry has for Australia.

Australia's abundant natural resources mean it could be one of the first countries to create a hydrogen export industry, helping to generate a significant number of Australian jobs and lay the foundations for a new hydrogen industry. This bill aims to help realise this opportunity for Australia. The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project relies on suitable carbon capture and storage that the CarbonNet Project will provide. This is the cheapest way to produce clean hydrogen.

The CarbonNet Project is investigating the feasibility for a commercial-scale, multi-user carbon capture and storage network in Gippsland, Victoria. The proposed storage site under the CarbonNet Project is one such site that straddles the boundary between Commonwealth waters and state and Northern Territory coastal waters. The Australian government has invested heavily in both the CarbonNet and Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain projects, providing total funding of almost $150 million. The two projects are highly interdependent.

To kickstart our new hydrogen industry, the bill will improve the current regulatory framework by amending the OPGGS Act to provide for single greenhouse gas titles that are partially located in Commonwealth waters and partially located in state and Northern Territory coastal waters. These amendments will further realise the benefits of Australia's resources sector and unlock the development of future resource projects that identify potential storage formations which straddle the jurisdictional boundary.

Once these amendments have passed, together with supporting state or Northern Territory legislation, a cross-boundary regulatory regime will be ready to be triggered. This regulatory regime starts with the creation of a Cross-boundary Authority, consisting of the responsible Commonwealth minister and the relevant state or Northern Territory resources minister. This is similar to current joint authority arrangements for petroleum titles in Commonwealth waters. The Cross-boundary Authority will make decisions by consensus about the granting of cross-boundary greenhouse gas titles.

Upon the grant of the cross-boundary title, the title area becomes Commonwealth waters for all purposes of the OPGGS Act. The title area will be regulated under the OPGGS Act in the same way as other greenhouse gas titles located in Commonwealth waters. NOPSEMA will have regulatory responsibility for environmental management, safety and well integrity. Titles administration will be undertaken by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator.

The existing protections for precommencement petroleum titles and existing petroleum production licences, both in Commonwealth and state and Northern Territory waters, will be maintained. The amendments will also enable the unification of adjacent Commonwealth greenhouse gas titles where a titleholder has reasonable grounds to suspect that there is a geological formation that straddles the two title areas.

Through its other key measure, the bill will also strengthen and clarify the monitoring, inspection and enforcement powers of NOPSEMA within state and Northern Territory jurisdictions during an oil pollution emergency originating in Commonwealth waters.

The OPGGS Act currently does not provide adequate monitoring, inspection and enforcement powers, within state and Northern Territory jurisdictions, for NOPSEMA to ensure compliance by a titleholder within its environmental management obligations. The extension of NOPSEMA's powers in the bill is confined to the event of an oil pollution emergency originating from operations in Commonwealth waters.

The bill will amend the OPGGS Act to enable NOPSEMA inspectors to enter premises used for the implementation of oil spill response obligations without a warrant in the event of an oil pollution emergency arising from operations in Commonwealth waters. Premises also include an aircraft or vessel. NOPSEMA will be able to enter premises whether they are located in Commonwealth, state or Northern Territory jurisdictions. The delay caused by obtaining a warrant or consent can significantly impede compliance monitoring in such emergency circumstances and situations. During an offshore incident, NOPSEMA inspectors need real-time regulatory intelligence in dynamic situations, including monitoring and enforcing compliance across premises.

The warrant-free oil pollution environmental inspection powers will only be exercisable if the CEO of NOPSEMA is satisfied that there is an emergency that has resulted in, or may result, in oil pollution and declares an oil pollution emergency. NOPSEMA must publish a copy of the declaration on its website as soon as is practicable after the declaration is made, and must give a copy to the relevant titleholder.

When the CEO of NOPSEMA is satisfied that the emergency no longer exists, the CEO must revoke the declaration and publish a copy of the instrument of revocation on NOPSEMA's website as soon as possible after making. A copy of the revocation will also be provided to the relevant titleholder.

The amendments will enable NOPSEMA to monitor whether a titleholder is in compliance with its oil spill response obligations and take enforcement action in the event of noncompliance. The bill will also amend the OPGGS Act to extend the operation of polluter-pays obligations and the application of significant incident directions that may be given by NOPSEMA to areas of state and Northern Territory jurisdiction.

Finally, the bill makes minor technical amendments to improve the operation of the OPGGS Act.

Overall, the bill underscores this government's ongoing commitment to the maintenance and continuous improvement of a strong and effective regulatory framework for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage. Further, the bill ensures the regulatory framework's alignment with international best practice and aims to attract investment in new technologies and industries for Australia.

I commend this bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned.