Abstract

The challenges and insights presented in this paper provide a unique case study of Australia’s evolving offshore petroleum industry from a regulatory lens. It documents how a regulating agency’s unique perspective can identify opportunities to optimise recovery, contribute towards improvements in good oil practice and ultimately adapt to the changing requirements of industry.

This paper sets out the regulatory landscape, as well as the challenges that exist in managing an innovative, adaptive and evolving offshore petroleum industry. Australia’s offshore resource stewardship strategies must now respond to a more established, maturing, more ‘crowded’ and dynamic petroleum landscape. This challenges regulators to be increasingly responsive, adaptive, continuously improve practices and be well-informed regarding global trends, such as those affecting mature provinces. Opportunities to exchange ideas, collaborate and incorporate key learnings from other offshore regulatory regimes are considered key enablers towards achieving these goals.

Australia’s maturing petroleum provinces are impacted by long distances, (relatively) low infrastructure density and greater water depths; whilst increasingly challenged to integrate smaller, deeper and economically marginal resources. Conversely, emerging/recently established production areas are now facing an increasingly dense infrastructure landscape with multiple potential development pathways. In contrast to traditional system-wide blanket or "title-by-title" approaches (particularly with respect to optimal use of existing infrastructure), effective resource stewardship requires an increased level of consideration of "area" or "regional" developments. A more responsive and adaptive approach, which fosters collaboration and effective dialogue between the regulator and industry, improves regional understanding and contributes toward optimum resource recovery (via lower life-cycle costs and accelerated production opportunities).

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