Australian Marine Parks

Australians need secure energy sources for our future. The oil and gas under our oceans is a potential source of that energy.

While no oil and gas is produced in our marine parks at present, oil and gas mining operations could be allowed to occur in some ‘blue’ zoned areas of the marine parks in the future, subject to assessment and approval by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), the regulator of Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry.

Where is mining allowed in Australian Marine Parks?

The management plans set out zones and rules for Australian Marine Parks.

Mining operations, including exploration, are allowed in most Special Purpose Zones, Special Purpose Zones (Trawl) and all Multiple Use Zones, subject to a class approval (see below).

Mining is not allowed in:

  • Sanctuary, National Park, Recreational Use, Habitat Protection and Special Purpose (Mining exclusion) zones
  • the Coral Sea Marine Park.

The construction and operation of pipelines is allowable under a licence in National Park Zones and Habitat Protection Zones, and under a class approval in Multiple Use Zones. Please contact us for more information:

For further information about the zones and rules in each marine park, look at the factsheets on each regional network.

Prior usage rights (renewal or extension)

A petroleum title granted under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 is a ‘prior usage right’ for the purposes of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) if the petroleum title was in force immediately before the proclamation of an Australian marine park that overlaps the title area.

Titles that are prior usage rights are exempt from having to comply with provisions of the EPBC Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (the Regulations) that relate to an Australian marine park, or the management plan for the marine park.

All other provisions of the EPBC Act and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 and the Regulations remain applicable.

A prior usage right may be renewed or extended only with the Minister for the Environment’s written consent, and subject to any conditions determined by the Minister.

The Offshore Petroleum Guideline: Prior Usage Rights provides general guidance on how to seek this consent.

To apply for consent, complete the application form.

Class approvals

Oil and gas mining operations and some greenhouse gas exploration operations are authorised in marine parks through class approvals.

Class approvals set out:

  • networks and zones where mining operations can occur
  • conditions that titleholders need to follow when operating in the marine parks.

The class approvals authorise activities undertaken in accordance with an Environment Plan accepted under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 by NOPSEMA.

This includes the following activities:

  • petroleum exploration
  • petroleum recovery operations
  • constructing or reconstructing an infrastructure facility
  • constructing or reconstructing or operating a pipeline
  • any decommissioning activities in relation to items (i) to (iv) above
  • exploration activities for potential greenhouse gas storage formations or potential greenhouse gas injection sites.

No additional assessment is required by the Director of National Parks for the above activities when undertaken in accordance with the relevant class approval.

The relevant class approvals are below:

The Director of National Parks is a relevant person for the purposes of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009. Information on consultation requirements can be found in the NOPSEMA Guideline Consultation with Commonwealth agencies with responsibilities in the marine area.

Industry guidance

A NOPSEMA guidance note is available to explain relevant marine park management arrangements and the requirements that are relevant to petroleum and greenhouse gas exploration activities that may affect Australian Marine Parks.

The guidance note intends to assist titleholders in the preparation of Environment Plans to comply with these arrangements and regulatory requirements.

The guidance note is available on NOPSEMA’s website.


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