Compliance and reporting
The Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 require that the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources (publish incidents in accordance with regulation 35A.
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 Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR)
- Onshore Gas Reform group in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
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:
- relates to the management of environmental impacts and environmental risks of a regulated activity and
- 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.
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:
- is not trivial or negligible in nature
- consists of an environmental nuisance of a high impact or on a wide scale
- 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
- 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:
- is irreversible or otherwise of a high impact or on a wide scale
- 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
- 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
- results in actual or potential loss or damage to the value of more than $50,000 or the prescribed amount.
The Code of Practice (2019) provides for a range of mandatory monitoring and reporting programs for Onshore Petroleum activities. This includes programs for:
- 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.
Groundwater monitoring serves as an indicator to allow the identification between natural or human-induced changes in the groundwater. Where an impact is detected, it triggers further investigation. Any necessary remediation is undertaken to ensure water quality guidelines are met.
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:
i. 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:
a) prior to drilling the well(s) or
b) 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
c) the minimum suite of water quality indicators to be monitored are listed in Table 7 of the Code of Practice.
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 of Practice.
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 of Practice.
Last updated: 31 January 2020