In Western Australia, a whole of government approach is taken to environmental protection and several government agencies are involved. AWE’s activities are assessed, approved and monitored by the Western Australia State regulator, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) which is responsible for overseeing all aspects of a drilling campaign, from the initial awarding of acreage to the approvals to drill an exploration well and final decommissioning and rehabilitation of the site.
In addition, other government agencies play an important role in assessing AWE’s activities including the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, which reviews the Company’s licences to construct water wells and extract superficial aquifer water for use during operations.
AWE engages with other regulators, who may be involved in both the exploration, production and decommissioning processes, including:
- Department of Aboriginal Affairs
- Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
- Department of Environmental Regulation
- Department of Parks and Wildlife
- Department of Health
- Environmental Protection Authority
- Office of the Environmental Protection Authority
The Western Australian oil and gas industry is highly regulated and AWE commits itself to upholding the highest standards for environmental and operational performance at every stage of a project’s development.
As part of its approvals process, AWE is required to identify environmental impacts and risks associated with the proposed activity and how each of these would be mitigated or managed. The Environmental Plan is a legally binding management document, assessed by the DWIRS, which must contain accurate information about all aspect of a proposal including:
- A description of the proposed activity and environment
- Environmental risk assessment
- Performance objectives, standards and measurement criteria
- Implementation strategy
- Consultation with stakeholders
A description of the environment must also provide information on:
- Climate and meteorology
- Vegetation, flora and fauna
- Geology, land features and soils
- Hydrogeology and hydrology
- Cultural heritage, social amenity, and impacts on other land users
- Any other environmental aspects relevant to the proposal
This information is generally procured through desktop and field surveys. Other legally required approvals, which are obtained prior to the commencement of operations, include a Safety Management Case, Heritage Clearance and Native Vegetation Clearance approvals, all of which are formally assessed by the DWIRS.