Simultaneously meeting community and investor expectations for net outcomes is the foundation for regulatory nirvana e.g. sustaining welcomed compatible, contemporaneous multiple use of land for myriad purposes, including unconventional resource exploration, development, production, processing and transport to markets. Trusted land access is both the first factor and the final outcome of a virtuous E&P life-cycle (Goldstein et al., 2007). This paper describes the regulatory frameworks that target regulatory nirvana in the State of South Australia.


Governments are under pressure to deploy trusted regulatory frameworks that enable profitable and environmentally sustainable development of unconventional resources. This paper describes how these principles are deployed in South Australia where:

  • 25 unconventional petroleum play-trends are being explored, each with giant resource potential;

  • 640 wells have been fractured stimulated - all safely without deleterious impacts (638 in the Cooper Basin and 2 in the Officer Basin). A total of 1212 fracture stimulation stages have been undertaken in these 640 wells. Additionally, Engineered Geothermal System (EGS) wells have been safely and effectively fracture stimulated in both the Habanero Project in the Cooper and the Paralana Project in the Arrowie Basin;

  • Since implementing South Australia's Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000, an estimated 12,500+ notices of entry for petroleum and geothermal operations led to just one Court hearing, and that was to establish legal precedent for geophysical surveys to extend outside a license to attain full-fold control within a license; and

  • Fracture stimulation will remain a key factor in the economic delivery of energy to meet demand; and will add to supply-side competitive in markets.

The introduction of new energy development technologies is inevitable, so regulatory Nirvana will remain an aspiration. Regulation for compatible, multiple-use of land in Australia is undertaken with community ownership of subsurface resources in mind. Expeditious, welcomed access to land for safe, compatible, multiple uses is the metric for performance, and leading practice is based on the principle that trust is the most valuable lead factor and lag outcome in sustaining regulatory nirvana for resource exploration, development and production.

URTeC 1583949

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