Greenhouse Gas Storage - Legislation

Purpose of the Commonwealth's Greenhouse Gas Storage Act

Carbon capture and geological storage (geosequestration), also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technology which has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. CCS is an important part of the Australian Government's long-term strategy to address climate change. Several CCS projects have been proposed in Australia creating the need for the development of a sound, guiding regulatory and legislative framework.

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 is the legislative regime for the potential storage of greenhouse gases in suitable geological formations beneath the seabed under Commonwealth waters. In particular the Act regulates:

  • the exploration, assessment and testing of geological formations
  • the transport to, and storage of, greenhouse gases in such formations
  • potential conflicts between current and future offshore petroleum operations.

The legislation is aimed at providing project developers with the certainty required to commit to major low emission energy projects involving geological storage of greenhouse gases. It also provides for the establishment of a regulatory framework to ensure that projects meet health, safety and environmental requirements.

The petroleum and greenhouse gas storage industries use similar technologies and operate in similar geological environments. Amending the Offshore Petroleum Act 2006 was identified as the most appropriate vehicle to establish greenhouse gas storage rights and to define rights enabling both industries to co-exist.

The new greenhouse gas storage legislation incorporates a licensing framework similar in a broad sense to the existing regime for petroleum activities. The Act allows for greenhouse gas storage specific assessment permits, holding leases and injection licences.

The regulatory framework, which consists of guidelines and regulations to underpin the legislation, are being developed.

Additional information on the development of the legislation is available from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

History of the Commonwealth's Greenhouse Gas Storage Act

The Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 was introduced in the House of Representatives on 18 June 2008 and, after initial debate, was referred to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Resources for review. The Committee reported its findings to the Government on 15 August 2008 in a report entitled, Down Under: Greenhouse Gas Storage, which made several recommendations on the proposed legislation.

Following the Committee's report, the proposed legislation was amended and passed through the House of Representatives on 18 September 2008. The Bill was then introduced into the Senate on 24 September and after serious debate and a second inquiry, this time by the Senate's Standing Committee on Economics, the legislation was passed, becoming law on 21 November 2008.