Overview of guide to regulatory framework for shale and tight gas in WA released

Now available on DMP website
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has just released an overview of Western Australia’s guide to the regulatory framework for shale and tight gas on its website.

The overview is an abridged version of the ‘Guide to the Regulatory Framework for Shale and Tight Gas in Western Australia – A Whole-of-Government Approach’ which was published in 2015 by DMP in consultation with the departments of Health, Water, Aboriginal Affairs, Environmental Regulation, Parks and Wildlife, and Planning, and the Environmental Protection Authority and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority.

“This whole-of-government approach is a key element in the development of the State’s mineral and petroleum resources, with public sector agencies working collaboratively across portfolios to achieve an integrated response to the development of these resources,” DMP Executive Director Petroleum Jeff Haworth said.

He said the State’s shale and tight gas resources could represent a significant economic opportunity which would also offer benefits to regional communities.

“The size of these resources could have a transformative impact on the State’s energy strategy and security into the future,” Mr Haworth said.

“The Western Australian public expects that the agencies charged with assessing and regulating petroleum resources, including shale and tight gas projects, do so with caution, rigor and transparency.”

He said the State Government and its agencies were aware of this expectation as Western Australia seeks to maximise the benefits these developments can provide.

Government agencies will work collaboratively and collectively to manage risk inherent to the industry under one regulatory framework.

“A whole-of-government approach is a key element in the development of the State’s mineral and petroleum resources, and agencies are united by a common and overarching responsibility to manage risk, whether to the natural environment, human health or the amenity of communities,” Mr Haworth said.

“While WA’s natural gas from shale and tight rocks industry is in the early stages of exploration, with any significant commercial production predicted to be about five to 10 years away, it is important that legislation is already in place.

“The State Government understands the community raised concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing and has strengthened regulations, and is ensuring best practices are implemented and are expected of industry.”

The regulations ensure that adequate information will be provided about all aspects of exploration, discovery, development and production operations in relation to petroleum and geothermal energy resources.

Before drilling programs are approved DMP assesses applications to ensure they comply with State legislation relating to protecting public health, the environment and water resources.

Future projects will be assessed on a site-by-site, project-by- project basis with safety and environment auditors conducting inspections to check compliance with safety and environmental standards.

As part of the approvals process, companies are legally required to formulate an environment plan that assesses the potential impacts on groundwater, as well as flora and fauna.

All companies are required to submit a list of all chemicals to be used in hydraulic fracturing activity, which are published on the DMP website.

The overview document is available here.