In its 2009 CCS Technology Roadmap the IEA identified the following key issues that needed to be resolved in order to scale up the development and deployment of CCS technologies:

  • existing legal and regulatory frameworks should be reviewed and adapted for CCS demonstration by 2011 in OECD countries and by 2015 in all countries;

  • all countries should have a framework suitable for large-scale CCS deployment by 2020;

  • international legal issues need to be resolved by 2012.

Despite the urgent need for legal certainty for project developers and investors, only a very small number of jurisdictions have passed integrated CCS legislation. Australia is one of those countries, with laws passed at both the Federal and State level to facilitate early projects.

This paper reviews the Australian experience in reconciling existing laws associated with resource development, planning, transportation, environmental protection, waste and pollution control (among others) and the various regulatory agencies responsible for those laws, in order to deliver an early and expedited permitting framework and an equitable and effective approach to long-term liability for stored carbon dioxide.

In the case of the Gorgon project, a bespoke approach taken through the Barrow Island Act 2003 (WA) and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (C'th) provided the Federal and State Governments, the joint venture participants and the Western Australian community with regulatory certainty through the establishment of clear rights and responsibilities for each step of the CCS project cycle. In particular, it provides a model for long-term liability, with the State and Federal Governments sharing that liability post storage site closure. Without this certainty, many CCS projects will struggle to reach FID stage.

Employing a bespoke legal approach, such as that adopted for Gorgon, is one of the most efficient mechanisms to support early commercial CCS projects.

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