Compliance and reporting

The Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 require that the Minister for Environment must publish incidents and reports relating to environmental matters within specified time frames.

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The Compliance and Monitoring Strategy for Onshore Petroleum promotes a strong culture of accountability, self-monitoring and reporting from industry.

The government is committed to a robust assessment process, coupled with an active inspection monitoring regime. This will include on ground inspections of petroleum exploration and production activities, in addition to industry's heavy reporting requirements.

Government will undertake active compliance, monitoring and surveillance to detect any non-compliance.

Recommendation 14.26 of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory related to the development and implementation of a robust and transparent monitoring and compliance strategy which had regard for the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Administering Regulation: Achieving the Right Balance Guide and the South Australian (SA) Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act Compliance Policy.

The Monitoring and Compliance Strategy was developed in collaboration with the:

  • Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS)
  • Energy Operations group within the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade
  • Onshore Gas Reform group in the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security.

View the Compliance and Monitoring Strategy PDF (604.2 KB)

The Annual Environment Performance Report (AEPR) is a requirement under the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) and must be submitted at least on an annual basis.

The Regulations require that the Minister for Environment (the Minister) publish the AEPRs in accordance with regulation 25.

The AEPR must include sufficient information to allow the Minister to assess whether the interest holder has met the environmental outcomes and environmental performance standards included in the approved Environment Management Plan (EMP).

View the Annual Environment Performance Reports.

A recordable incident is an incident, other than a reportable incident, arising from a regulated activity in relation to the following as matters as specified in the current EMP:

  • has resulted in an environmental impact or risk not specified or
  • has resulted in a contravention of an environmental performance standard specified or
  • is inconsistent with an environmental outcome specified.

An environmental performance standard means a standard that:

  1. relates to the management of environmental impacts and environmental risks of a regulated activity and
  2. applies to persons, systems, equipment or procedures involved in carrying out the activity.

The following is a summary of recordable incidents received under regulation 35 of the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 for a quarterly reporting period.

View the recordable incidents report.

A reportable incident is an incident arising from a regulated activity, that has caused or has the potential to cause material or serious environmental harm.

The Petroleum Act 1984 (the Act) defines material environmental harm as environmental harm that:

  1. is not trivial or negligible in nature
  2. consists of an environmental nuisance of a high impact or on a wide scale
  3. results, or is likely to result, in not more than $50,000 being spent in taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the environmental harm or rehabilitate the environment or
  4. results in actual or potential loss or damage to the value of not more than $50,000.

The Act defines serious environmental harm as a harm that is more serious than material environmental harm that:

  1. is irreversible or otherwise of a high impact or on a wide scale
  2. damages an aspect of the environment that is of a high conservation value, high cultural value or high community value or is of special significance
  3. results, or is likely to result, in more than $50,000 or the prescribed amount being spent in taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the environmental harm or rehabilitate the environment or
  4. results in actual or potential loss or damage to the value of more than $50,000 or the prescribed amount.

View the reportable incidents report.

Mandatory requirements

The Code of Practice (2019) (the Code) provides for a range of mandatory monitoring and reporting programs for onshore petroleum activities. This includes programs for:

  • groundwater
  • drilling wastes
  • hydraulic fracturing fluids and
  • flowback fluid.

The following are public reports from historical monitoring programs in the Beetaloo sub-basin. These reports relate to hydraulic fracturing and ongoing programs for groundwater monitoring conducted by interest holders.

An accurate understanding must be gained of:

  • what aquifers exist at the well site
  • their depth from surface
  • their relationships to each other and
  • other hydro-stratigraphic units during the well design phase.

Where there is an intention to hydraulically fracture the well(s) at a well site:

  • at least six months of local baseline data for water quality indicators of the key aquifers that may be affected by the activity must be acquired:
    • prior to drilling the well(s) or
    • prior to hydraulic fracturing where six months monitoring data from the control bore is not achievable before drilling due to circumstances that lie outside of the control of the interest holder
    • the minimum suite of water quality indicators to be monitored are listed in Table 7 of the Code.

The following are public reports from historical monitoring programs in the Beetaloo Sub-basin. These reports relate to hydraulic fracturing and ongoing monitoring programs conducted by interest holders.

Groundwater monitoring results

Groundwater monitoring serves as an indicator for the identification of both natural or human-induced changes in the groundwater quality and quantity. Therefore, interest holders are required to conduct robust groundwater monitoring programs.

Where a change in groundwater is detected, it triggers further investigation. Where an observed change is related to the regulated activity, remediation is undertaken to ensure the values and benficial uses of groundwater are retained.

View all the public reports from groundwater monitoring programs, conducted by interest holders in compliance with the Code in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin.

Drilling waste monitoring

A drilling waste monitoring program is required to assess the quality and quantity of the drilling waste from petroleum well drilling.

The monitoring program must meet the requirements of the Code.

In particular, if the interest-holder is seeking approval to dispose of residue from drilling fluids on-site, the EMP that is submitted must include a certification from a suitably qualified third party that the material is of acceptable quality for disposal to land by the proposed method and that environmental harm will not result from the proposed disposal.

The public reports from drilling waste monitoring programs, conducted by interest holders in compliance with the Code in the Beetaloo Sub-basin, will be published when available.

Hydraulic fracturing fluid monitoring

A hydraulic fracturing fluid monitoring program is required to monitor the quality and quantity of the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing.

The monitoring program must meet the requirements of the Code.

The public reports from hydraulic fracturing fluid monitoring programs, conducted by interest holders in compliance with the Code in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin, will be published when available.

Flowback fluid monitoring

For hydraulic fracturing, the interest holder must put in place a flowback fluid monitoring program. The monitoring program must meet the requirements of the Code.

View all the public reports from flowback fluid monitoring programs, conducted by interest holders in compliance with the Code in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin.

Last updated: 11 September 2020

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