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Gerry Brownlee

14 December, 2010

Feedback sought on offshore petroleum

The review looked at the adequacy of New Zealand’s present health, safety and environmental regulations based on what is happening overseas. It was undertaken by New Zealand law firm Atkins Holm Joseph Majurey, in partnership with the international consultancy Environmental Resource Management.

“The review concludes that New Zealand’s health, safety and environmental (HSE) regime for offshore petroleum operations already compares favourably internationally, and incorporates a number of key characteristics of international best practice,” Mr Brownlee said.

“However, the review also identifies that there is room for improvement, and the report I’m releasing today sets out a number of recommendations for strengthening our HSE regulations.”

The review looked at a range of approaches internationally, including in Australia, Norway and the United Kingdom – three of the most developed and well-respected offshore regulatory regimes worldwide.

“We can learn from jurisdictions with mature petroleum industries, so that New Zealand can capture the benefit of their experience to assist the appropriate development of our own industry,” Mr Brownlee said.

“At the same time, there will be issues peculiar to New Zealand.

“Before any decisions are made about the future direction of HSE regulations for offshore petroleum operations, I’m seeking feedback from interested parties on the matters raised in the review report. I’m also interested in comments on relevant matters not covered by the report.”

Submissions are due by 5pm on Tuesday 15 February 2011.

The report titled Comparative Review of Health, Safety and Environmental Legislation for Offshore Petroleum Operations and information on how to make a submission are available on the Ministry of Economic Development’s website at www.med.govt.nz/HSEreview.

Media contact: Nick Bryant on 04 817 8273 or 021 245 8272

Background

In June 2010 a high-level review of New Zealand’s health, safety and environmental regulations for offshore petroleum operations was commissioned, as an additional project to the Petroleum Action Plan. Its aim is to ensure that the legislative structure, institutional capabilities and practices in New Zealand are fit for purpose and compare favourably to international best practice.

The recommendations coming out of the review are listed below in order of priority, with those that require most pressing action listed first:

  1. The government investigate funding mechanisms and resourcing options to assist delivery of HSE regulatory functions by the Department of Labour and Maritime NZ, and that agencies explore opportunities for improved co-operation, coordination and sharing of expertise and resources.
  2. HSE consideration be legally required when applicants apply for petroleum permits from Crown Minerals.
  3. Undertake a review to identify ways to improve inter-agency coordination on health and safety regulation.
  4. Strengthen Department of Labour consideration of individual safety cases.
  5. Establish an environmental assessment and approval framework for petroleum operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf.
  6. Establish an agency with responsibility for environmental regulation in the EEZ and extended continental shelf.
  7. Investigate appropriateness of current insurance and liability arrangements, and consider ratifying a number of international protocols and conventions.
  8. Consider future consolidation of offshore environmental jurisdictions.
  • Gerry Brownlee
  • Energy and Resources