Offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas operations beyond designated state and territory coastal waters are governed by the Commonwealth's Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (OPGGSA) Act 2006 and related regulations. Within this legal framework, the Australian Government administers the regulatory regime and supervises industry activities through the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
The offshore petroleum legislation, regulations and guidelines provide for the orderly exploration for and production of petroleum, and the injection and storage of greenhouse gas substances, and sets out a framework of rights, entitlements and responsibilities of governments and industry.
The legal framework within which these activities take place in Australia is a result of certain agreements including the Offshore Constitutional Settlement and the division of responsibilities between the Australian Government and the State/Northern Territory Governments under the Australian Constitution.
Ultimate responsibility for Australia's offshore areas, beyond three nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline, rests with the Australian Government, whereas onshore and as far as three nautical miles seaward of the baseline (referred to as 'coastal waters') petroleum and greenhouse gas operations are the responsibility of the individual state and territory governments. An explanation of Australia's maritime zones is provided in Australia's Offshore Jurisdiction [PDF 198KB]: Explanation of Terminology in relation to Petroleum Exploration and Development.
The Offshore Minerals Act 1994 establishes a regulatory regime for exploration (and production) of minerals in Commonwealth waters that adheres to the principles of the Offshore Constitutional Settlement.