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Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000

Onshore petroleum, geothermal and gas storage exploration and development in South Australia is administered by the Energy Resources Division under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 and associated Regulations.

The Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 was proclaimed on 1 October 2009, to replace the repealed Petroleum Act 2000. Since enactment of the Petroleum Act 2000 and Petroleum Regulations 2000 in September 2000, the Energy Resources Division identified a number of opportunities for enhancement relating to both administrative matters and emerging issues in the petroleum and geothermal industry sectors were identified. The subsequent amendment process led to the proclamation of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 and associated Regulations.

The main features of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 are:

  • Establishment of a co-regulatory regime focused on achieving environmental, public safety and resource management objectives, and reduced compliance costs
  • Licence allocation and management mechanisms to facilitate competition in line with competition policy principles
  • Rights of third party access to licenced pipelines (where not covered by the national access regime), to depleted reservoirs (for gas storage purposes), and to pipeline easements
  • Greater security of tenure for licences through improved registration procedures
  • Public consultation processes with regard to establishment of environmental objectives and for significant proposed activities (consistent with provisions of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016)
  • Reduced risk to government for liabilities arising from the activities of the industry
  • A fee structure designed to encourage the industry to adopt management systems to undertake activities
  • Inclusion of an effective and expeditious regulatory and approvals framework applicable to geothermal and gas storage activities.

Key principles of the Act

The Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 embraces six key principles of certainty, openness, transparency, flexibility, practicality and efficiency:


The rights conferred by licences are certain and will not be subject to unreasonable change or challenge. Additionally the regulatory objectives and obligations under the regulatory regime are uniform, clear and predictable to all licensees.


Decision-making processes are not exclusive and the legal rights of all stakeholders are not unfairly compromised. This entails the need for fair and equitable processes for the:

  • Allocation of title rights
  • Managing of rights of other land owners with overlapping land rights
  • Managing of rights of title holders to access land for the exploration and development of regulated resources
  • Provision of access to natural resources governed by this legislation where surface access within the licence area may be restricted by the sensitivity of the natural environment or other previously established rights
  • Stakeholder consultation on the establishment of the environmental protection objectives
  • Appeal rights to those affected by decisions made under the legislation


The objects and intent of the regulatory regime are clearly communicated so as to be understood by all stakeholders. Also, stakeholders are provided with the opportunity to input into the development of regulatory objectives.

The decision-making processes are visible and comprehensible to all stakeholders and industry performance in terms of compliance with the regulatory objectives is apparent to all stakeholders.


There is sufficient flexibility in the types of licences that can be granted so as to adequately reflect the purpose of the activities to be undertaken and the stage of development of the resource under the licence.

The level of intervention (including enforcement) needed to ensure compliance is determined on the basis of the individual company being regulated and the outcomes needed to be achieved.


The regulatory objectives are achievable and measurable.


The compliance costs imposed on both government and the licensee by the regulatory requirements are minimised and justified. Distributional effects across society of company negative externalities is minimised and companies remain liable for the costs of such externalities. An appropriate rent is paid to the community of South Australia from the value realised from the exploitation of its natural resources.

In applying the above principles the Act achieves:

  • A more effective means for allocating and managing the rights to explore for and develop petroleum and other natural resources so as to facilitate competition
  • Greater security of title of petroleum rights through improved registration procedures and greater flexibility in the types of licences that can be granted
  • A regulatory regime designed to effectively and efficiently set and achieve environment and public safety protection objectives
  • Effective public consultation processes for the establishment of environmental objectives
  • An effective means for ensuring that security of production and supply of natural gas is maintained at a prudent level
  • Effective public reporting to provide all stakeholders with sufficient information on industry performance and government decision-making
  • A flexible regulatory approach which allows the selection of the most appropriate level of regulatory intervention and enforcement in order to ensure compliance with the regulatory objectives

Part 12 of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 provides for requirements to protect the environment from potential and adverse impacts related to petroleum activities. This includes the need for licensees to prepare a Statement of Environmental Objectives (SEO), based on an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The Energy Resources Division produce annual reports of statewide compliance with the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000.

Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982

Offshore petroleum operations within three nautical miles of the coast and inland waters are administered by the Energy Resources Division under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 and the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000.

Petroleum operations which occur more than 3 nautical miles offshore from the coast are within Commonwealth waters, and are administered by Commonwealth legislation under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 and associated regulations. This legislation is administered by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

The NOPSEMA website is the best resource for more information on the regulation and approvals process for offshore petroleum activity, including in the Great Australian Bight.

A guide to the Facts about offshore oil and gas exploration in South Australia is available at Frequently asked questions.

Note: As of 1 January 2012, the environmental management function of the Commonwealth’s Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 was transferred from the Department for Energy and Mining (formerly Department of State Development)– as a Designated Authority under this Act – to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

Administrative arrangements

The Energy Resources Division undertakes consultation with Government Agencies (including the Department of Environment and Water, the Environment Protection Authority, and where relevant, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and SafeWork SA). Administrative Arrangements establish and explain the government consultation protocols and time frames between the Energy Resources Division and the specific agency.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA)

Administrative Arrangement between EPA and Energy Resources Division (PDF 574 KB)
Dated 8 November 2022

Memorandum of Understanding between EPA and Energy Resources Division (PDF 906 KB)
Dated 17 August 2012 

Department of Environment and Water (formerly Department for Environment and Heritage)

Administrative Arrangement between DEW and Energy Resources Division (PDF 342 KB)
Dated 11 November 2005

Department for Infrastructure and Transport (formerly Department for Transport, Urban Planning and the Arts)

Administrative Arrangement between DPTI and Energy Resources Division (PDF 211 KB)
Dated 7 November 2000

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA)

Administrative Arrangement between NOPSEMA and the State of South Australia (PDF 847KB)
Dated August 2007

Safework SA (SWSA)

Statement of Common Purpose and Joint Operational Guide between Energy Resources Division and Safework SA (PDF 4.26 MB)
Dated 27 February 2014

Note: All discrepancies between department names and those described within the individual documents are due to machinery of government changes to departments.