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The administration and regulation of offshore petroleum exploration and development in Commonwealth waters under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 is controlled by two Federal agencies:

The South Australian Government maintains a key role through the Joint Authority arrangement between the Commonwealth and State Minister with involvement in decision making in aspects such as the release of areas and the award of titles, but has no day-to-day regulatory role.

Australia’s maritime zones and current offshore permits are shown on this map:

Petroleum and geothermal tenements

Offshore permits

All Offshore Petroleum Permit areas located beyond three nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline are administered on behalf of the Joint Authority by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA).

NOPTA publishes information about titles and applications on the National Electronic Approvals Tracking System (NEATS) website.

Joint Authorities detemine areas available for exploration though the annual acreage release. Vacant offshore areas are open to permit application only after gazettal by the Federal Government. Only one offshore permit can be granted over the same or overlapping areas.

For further information relating to Offshore Acreage Releases see the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science or Offshore petroleum exploration in Australia.

Protecting the environment

Under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 all oil and gas activities must have an environment plan assessed and accepted by NOPSEMA before they can take place. Oil and gas companies must demonstrate to NOPSEMA that environmental impacts and risks related to their activities are as low as reasonably practicable and an acceptable level.

More information including a guideline for environmental plan decision making is available on NOPSEMA's website.

A streamlined environmental approvals process under Part 10 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 has been in place for offshore oil and gas activities since 2014. Under this process NOPSEMA is the sole assessor for environmental approvals for these activities.

Read more about the streamlined environmental approvals process.

Further information on NOPSEMA, including Frequently Asked Questions, how to get involved and feedback opportunities, is available at the NOPSEMA community information portal.

Offshore royalties

The Australian Government collects royalties for petroleum and other regulated substances recovered from projects in Commonwealth waters, offshore South Australia.

For further information on taxes and royalties payable in Commonwealth waters, please refer to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website.

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