Risk and Response in Australia's Offshore Petroleum Sector: Lessons from Varanus Island and Montara

Tina Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses the role the offshore petroleum legislative framework has played in creating a risk of offshore facility integrity incidents within the Australia's offshore petroleum jurisdiction. It examines the regulatory framework that existed at the time of the Varanus and Montara facility incidents, determining that the regulatory regime contributed to each of these incidents. This paper then assesses the response of the Commonwealth government to the risk posed by the regulatory framework, particularly the integration of well regulation as part of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority's functions, and the establishment of a national offshore regulatory regulator.

An assessment of regulatory reforms undertaken in response to the incidents determines that while the integration of well management into NOPSA's functions is valuable, there is still a risk for loss of well control due to the differing standards applied to the regulation of petroleum facilities (the Safety Case Regime) and wells (Good Oilfield Practice).

The paper also concludes that the establishment of the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Regulator, in addition to the retaining of the JA and enhancing NOPSA's functions to include environmental management, has created a regulatory complex that is increasingly complex, posing a possible on-going risk for facility and well incidents in Australia's offshore petroleum jurisdictions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalOil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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