A National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority will open its doors Jan. 1, 2005, after the Senate passed enabling legislation in the year's final sitting period.
Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane first introduced the Petroleum amendment bill and the Offshore Petroleum bill to Parliament in September, fulfilling a 2001 government election commitment.
"From 2005, the new Authority will have responsibility for regulating safety on oil and gas facilities in commonwealth waters as well as the coastal waters of the states and the Northern Territory," Macfarlane said. "It will also have the ability to undertake regulation in inland waters or onshore, where requested by a state or the Northern Territory."
The Australian, state, and Northern Territory governments recognized the need for a national regime to improve petroleum safety outcomes and have worked closely with industry to bring about the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority.
"There are about 60 petroleum facilities in Australian offshore waters including fixed and floating platforms, mobile drilling rigs, and support barges," Macfarlane said. "The new Authority will replace six existing regulators, ruling out many of the problems which stem from having separate state-based systems."
The Authority's headquarters will be in Perth and will house 25 regulatory staff. Once operational, the Authority will be funded by industry fees and levies.