This regulation amends the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to ensure that all petroleum activities are regulated consistently. Specifically it
- requires all petroleum exploration, assessment and production activities to hold an environment protection licence issued by the EPA
- provides a new administrative fee scale for this activity, and
- requires operators licensed for this activity to pay load-based fees on specific assessable pollutants when the annual production capacity exceeds 0.5 petajoules.
The definition of petroleum (as included in the new activity description) is consistent with the definition of petroleum under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and includes all gas (coal seam gas, tight gas, shale gas and natural gas), liquid petroleum (crude oil and shale oil) and solid petroleum.
These amendments mean that any organisation that currently holds an environment protection licence for coal seam gas activities will need to seek a licence variation from the EPA before 19 March 2015. The EPA will work proactively with existing licence holders to ensure that the variation process is streamlined and efficient.
Key stakeholders were consulted as part of the amendment process and stakeholder feedback helped to inform the Amending Regulation.
The EPA acknowledges that the consultation period was restricted. However, this was required to enable the EPA to commence its oversight of these activities as soon as possible. The feedback received allowed the EPA to ensure the amendments are practical and cover the relevant activities. A summary of the issues raised in the consultation and the EPA’s response to these issues can be found at Consultation on Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment.
These amendments are an initiative of the NSW Gas Plan, which was announced on 13 November 2014.
More information about the requirement for gas facilities to hold an environment protection licence (PDF 52KB).
Gas compliance statement
Following consultation over the Protection of Environment Operations Amendment Act, the EPA has prepared the Gas Compliance Statement (PDF 354KB) to help stakeholders understand the EPA's role as lead regulator for gas activities in NSW. Specifically, the Statement outlines
- the legislative changes that gave the EPA the powers to become the lead regulator for gas activities in NSW
- how these changes have been implemented, including details of the interagency memorandum of understanding
- the EPA’s regulatory approach to compliance and enforcement of gas activities
- how overlapping regulatory powers across various legislation are dealt with
- offence types, retrospectivity, confidential information, penalties and appeals
- reporting requirements and access to information
Who is the Gas Compliance Statement for?
Anyone who is interested in the new regulatory arrangements for gas activities in NSW should read the gas compliance statement. This includes and is not limited to companies conducting gas activities, other government agencies and members of the community. The gas compliance statement highlights EPAs ongoing commitment to create more open dialogue with all stakeholders about its regulatory role.