Australia: Insights and trends for the leading edge of the energy industry - Part 2

Australian Energy Sector Update: September 2014
This article is part of a series: Click Insights and trends for the leading edge of the energy industry - Part 1 for the previous article.

Regulatory updates


The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 (NSW) (Regulation) replaced the Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2008 (NSW) from 1 September 2014. The Regulation aims to enhance the management of underground petroleum storage systems, which have potential to cause contamination and damage to the environment if leaking occurs, resulting in extensive clean-up costs. We have prepared an article highlighting the key matters covered by the Regulation which is accessible here.


The Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (Qld) was read into the Queensland Parliament on 11 September 2014 and aims to provide a new framework for management and allocation of water and to establish a consistent framework for underground water rights for the resources sector and for the management of impacts on underground water due to resources sector activities. The explanatory notes to the Bill outline in particular that the Bill expands the underground water impact management framework applying to the petroleum and gas industry under Chapter 3 of the Water Act to the mineral resources sector. The changes will provide the holder of a mining lease or mineral development licence with a statutory right to take 'associated water' (underground water removed from a mine site in order to carry out the operations), which is subject to their compliance with the requirements of chapter 3 of the Water Act including associated reporting, monitoring and an obligation to enter 'make good' agreements with affected landholders. The Bill will also limit the statutory right to apply only to take of 'associated water' for the petroleum and gas sector. As a consequence, a petroleum tenure holder will be required to obtain a water entitlement before extracting 'non-associated water' (water taken for consumptive purposes for example, for hydraulic fracturing) in a regulated area.


The Australian and Queensland governments launched the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan on 15 September 2014. Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said the "The contribution of the resources sector and its partner the ports sector, to the Reef 2050 actions and commitments is a substantial one, encompassing actions involving water quality monitoring and reporting, port development and dredging management strategies and commitments to using ships and ship crews that have been independently vetted for their quality...In addition to these Reef 2050 actions, the resources industry expects to spend $250 million over the next 5 years on Reef-related environmental programs."


Further to our June reporting, the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 (Qld) was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 9 September 2014 with late amendments, and is awaiting royal assent. The Bill modernises and harmonises Queensland's resources legislation, implements a consistent restricted land framework across all resource sectors and a new overlapping tenure framework for Queensland's coal and CSG industries. Importantly, the legislation will reduce the regulatory burden for low-impact mines, which meet certain eligibility criteria, as they will no longer be subject to notification requirements or potential objections to an environmental authority application. The Bill clarifies the Land Court's jurisdiction to enable it to strike out an objection to a mining lease or environmental authority application which is frivolous or vexatious or outside of the Land Court's jurisdiction and to grant the right for landowners of adjoining properties to the land the subject of a mining lease application to receive a copy of the application and the right to object to the grant of the mining lease on limited grounds.

Other news

DUNCAN v ICAC [2014] NSWSC 1018

The NSW Supreme Court recently handed down its decision in Duncan v ICAC [2014] NSWSC 1018 regarding ICAC's findings and recommendations in relation to the circumstances surrounding the award of the Mount Penny mining tenement and the grant of an exploration licence over the area to Cascade Coal. The decision is particularly notable for the Court's determination that recommendations made by ICAC that the government should enact legislation to expunge authorities granted, were not susceptible to review. For further detail about the case please read the Corrs' thinking piece accessible here. High Court challenges have reportedly been mounted by NuCoal Resources, Cascade Coal and its wholly owned subsidiaries Mt Penny Coal and Glendon Brook Coal as well as Travers Duncan in relation to the legislation enacted by the NSW government to amend the Mining Act and cancel exploration licences.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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This article is part of a series: Click Insights and trends for the leading edge of the energy industry - Part 1 for the previous article.
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