15 April 2013
On 29 August 2012, the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Environment) Regulations 2012 (WA) (Environment Regulations) commenced operation, codifying the existing requirement for all onshore petroleum activities to have an approved Environment Plan. To support the Environment Regulations, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has also published Guidelines for the preparation of an Environment Plan (Guidelines) and an Information Sheet on chemical disclosure (Information Sheet).
The Environment Regulations were developed following Dr Tina Hunter’s report ‘Regulation of Shale, Coal Seam and Tight Gas Activities in Western Australia’ (Hunter Report). The Hunter Report found that while the DMP’s processes to protect the environment from onshore petroleum activities were adequate, the regime lacked legal enforceability. Dr Hunter recommended that the Environment Regulations be written to provide legal certainty and ensure enforceability.
Increasing media attention around onshore unconventional gas activities in WA, in particular fraccing, has in part elevated stakeholder concerns. This is recognised in the Hunter Report, with the use of chemicals in the fraccing process identified by Dr Hunter as a cause of ‘community distress’. Dr Hunter recommended that the DMP provide full, transparent disclosure of all chemicals used in WA fraccing operations and this requirement has been built into the Environment Regulations.
Complying with the new chemical disclosure requirements, particularly in respect to the protection of proprietary information, is a key concern arising from these reforms.
Read our WA Fraccing regulations article here.