News - 13 May 2022

Statement on the leadership transition at NOPSEMA

The Great Australian Bight. Image: Julian Robinson

Jess Lerch, National Corporate Campaign Manager, from the Wilderness Society provides the following comments in response to the announcement of the resignation announcement of the current CEO of NOPSEMA:

I wanted to take this opportunity to recognise the work of Stuart Smith, CEO of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) today, given the announcement of his intention to step down as CEO. In the time Stuart was their CEO, NOPSEMA greatly improved as a regulator as it became increasingly apparent that the industry could not be trusted to self-regulate. We crossed paths in the debate over the future of the Great Australian Bight, seismic testing, community rights in the acreage release process, and over the debacle with offshore decommissioning. To regulate an industry that has intimate ties with political parties and government figures is no easy task, and NOPSEMA managed to achieve legislative reform in a way that the other environmental regulators couldn’t. The challenges presented by the offshore oil and gas industry are significant and Stuart Smith’s work to improve transparency and community engagement in an industry so unwilling to do either has been greatly appreciated.

We wish NOPSEMA all the best during this important transition. Although NOPSEMA has improved their performance, the job is not yet done. The IEA says that to reach net zero there should be no more release of oil and gas acreage for exploitation, yet each year the ocean floor gets carved up without the community having any real say. And the decommissioning failures are going to be amplified as all industry players, from the behemoths to the penny dreadfuls, are using the false promise of carbon capture and storage to delay the decommissioning process indefinitely.