Legislative framework for petroleum and geothermal energy

In Australia, the government controls all laws and rules for petroleum exploration and development. Responsibilities are divided between Commonwealth and State. The Petroleum and Geothermal Explorer’s Guide provides general information and guidance on the Commonwealth and State Governments’ role and the legislative framework for companies considering exploring and investing in Western Australia’s upstream petroleum and geothermal energy industries.

State Act

Safety notices at a pipeline construction site
Safety notices at a pipeline construction site

The Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 covers all onshore areas of the State, including its islands and, in certain circumstances, areas of submerged lands internal to the State (i.e. those waters landward of the base line), other than ‘subsisting’ permit areas under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982.

The Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 applies to Western Australia’s territorial sea to the three nautical mile mark, including the territorial sea around State islands, and under certain circumstances, some areas of internal waters.

The Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969 applies to petroleum pipelines on land within the State.

Commonwealth Act

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 applies to continental shelf waters past the three nautical mile boundary.


The above Acts are supported by subsidiary regulations and all are published in full on the Parliamentary Counsel's Office and the Commonwealth COMLAW websites.

National Offshore Petroleum Regulatory Reforms

Commonwealth offshore titles administration:

Detailed information is available on the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator website. Information regarding transitional agreements and changes to Commonwealth offshore titles administration can be obtained from the relevant staff on the contact list.

Commonwealth offshore safety and environment:

Information regarding transitional arrangements and changes to Commonwealth offshore titles administration can be obtained from National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority by phoning +61 (08) 6188 8700, or refer to the website.

Shale and tight gas

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) has improved the regulatory processes for onshore petroleum and geothermal projects through the development of new environment management regulations. These regulations ensure petroleum and geothermal operations (including shale and tight gas activities) are carried out in accordance with best industry practice, and provide a more robust, enforceable and transparent regulatory framework.

Information on the department’s approvals process for petroleum and geothermal titles is available online. Get further information on legislation and regulations (page 83).

Please also visit our Information Centre page for a substantial list of reading materials.

Related information

Below is a list of links that you may find useful.

Petroleum resource management, administration regulations and guidelines Find out about the new Resources Management and Administration regulations 2015 which have come into operation

Petroleum Royalties Find out how royalties are collected for onshore and offshore projects

Legislation and compliance Find information on legislation that applies to environmental approvals

Environmental regulation Visit this page for more information on how the department delivers environmental regulatory services to the State.

What incidents need to be reported for petroleum and geothermal energy operations? Outlines the legislation, what a notifiable incident is and how incidents are reported