Media Releases - 16 May 2024

Australia's oceans a winner with budget funding for better regulation of oil and gas clean up

The Wilderness Society welcomes $20 million of new funding in Tuesday’s federal budget for the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) to strengthen regulation of oil and gas clean up, also known as decommissioning.

In recent years, industry failure and weak regulation has resulted in a growing number of decommissioning failures including a spill from Exxon’s ageing Kingfisher platform pipeline in the Bass Strait, the calamitous effort to remove Nganhurra Riser Turret Mooring off the coast of Western Australia and the bankruptcy of owners of the Northern Endeavour, leaving the clean up in the government’s hands.

The Wilderness Society has been consistently sounding the alarm on the risks that delayed decommissioning creates to the marine environment, worker safety and the public purse, and calls on NOPSEMA to ensure new funding tightens the screws on companies to deliver clean up obligations.

While tighter regulation of decommissioning is welcome, the Wilderness Society is also calling on the Albanese Government to introduce oil and gas clean up bonds as financial security to inoculate against further Northern Endeavour style disasters.

Quotes attributable to Fern Cadman, Wilderness Society Fossil Fuel Campaigner:

“The litany of environmental and worker safety failings we have been seeing at ageing oil and gas assets that should have been cleaned up and removed years ago is the result of NOPSEMA’s failure over many years to ensure companies actually meet legal decommissioning requirements.”

“The oil and gas industry has a $60 billion and rising clean up job on its hands, and has been doing everything it can to avoid getting it done.

“$20 million in new funding to strengthen regulatory oversight of oil and gas clean up is a long overdue signal that company’s will not get away with making their profits before cutting and running, leaving the oceans with their trash.”

“Strong regulation of oil and gas clean up is a good first step. Now we need to see the introduction of oil and gas clean up bonds to make sure companies actually set money aside before they go bust and it’s too late.”

For further information or interviews please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser for the Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760