Review of the Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999
New Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 2013
On 29 May 2013, Labour Minister Simon Bridges announced new regulations that will raise the standard for workplace safety in petroleum exploration and extraction. Read full release.
The new Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 2013 — which come into force on 30 June 2013 — have been issued and are available online. They replace the former Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999.
The new regulations seek to ensure that health and safety regulation of petroleum exploration and extraction activities in New Zealand — both onshore and offshore — is more consistent with best practice in the United Kingdom and Australia and developments in light of recent, high-profile major accidents overseas. Specifically, the Regulations have been designed to:
- strengthen the management of hazards having the potential to cause multiple fatalities of persons on or near petroleum installations (a major accident);
- reduce the likelihood of an uncontrolled release of oil and gas (a blowout) occurring during well operations; and
- ensure the regulator has sufficient data to inform the targeting of regulatory interventions and the preparation of preventative guidance.
Key changes to the health and safety regulation of petroleum exploration and extraction activities, made through the new regulations include:
- A safety case regime for onshore and offshore installations: Strengthen the management of major accident hazards by enhancing the existing safety case regime that applies to offshore installations (drilling units and production facilities) and extending its coverage to onshore installations. A safety case is a document prepared by the operator of an installation that: identifies any hazards having the potential to cause multiple fatalities of persons on or near the installation; describes how the hazards are, or will be, controlled; and describes the safety management system in place to ensure that the controls are effectively and consistently applied. A safety case must be accepted by the regulator before operations may commence.
- Major accident prevention policy: Require operators of lower-tier onshore production installations to prepare a major accident prevention policy before the commencement of operations (in lieu of a safety case). A major accident prevention policy provides a high level overview of the measures in place for protecting the health and safety of any person at or near the installation by appropriate means, structures and management systems. It includes the overall aims and principles of action with respect to the control of major accident hazards.
- Goal setting regulations to cover activities over the full life cycle of wells: Provide for the safety of wells both onshore and offshore by placing a general duty on operators to ensure that a well is designed, constructed, operated, maintained, suspended and abandoned so that risks from it are reduced to a level that is as low as is reasonably practicable. The general duty is supplemented by obligations that set goals for the identification and assessment of hazards and establish principles for the safe design, construction, maintenance, and abandonment of wells. These goal setting regulations codify what diligent operators have always done as a matter of routine.
- Well examination scheme: Provide for the safety of wells both onshore and offshore by requiring operators to implement arrangements for independent and competent persons to examine all wells within their inventory. This will provide an independent quality control check for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, modification, suspension, and abandonment of new and existing wells.
- Notification and reporting of dangerous occurrences: Provide for the notification and reporting of incidents, which in different circumstances, could have led to a major accident. This will enable the regulator to: receive timely information on matters which may require an urgent regulatory response; gather information which can subsequently inform the planning and targeting of regulatory interventions; and secure statistical information which helps to identify and track trends and progress, target activities, and inform guidance on prevention.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is currently working to prepare a set of guidance notes that will support duty holders to understand the key requirements of the new regulations. The guidance notes will further clarify safety case and well examination scheme requirements and set out minimum standards for the design, construction, suspension, and abandonment of wells
The deadline for submissions on the public consultation on Review of the Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999 closed on 27 July 2012.
From April to July 2012 public feedback was sought on the discussion paper Review of the Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999.
There were multiple drivers for the review of the Petroleum Exploration and Extraction regulations.
- Petroleum has become an increasingly significant export sector for New Zealand and has the potential to create additional skilled jobs, and earn substantial royalty and tax revenues.
- Government, through its Petroleum Action Plan, is now seeking to increase petroleum exploration and production investment in New Zealand.
- Globally, exploration and production companies are increasingly operating in deeper water and more complex environments.
- High-profile major accidents, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico, have raised questions internationally about the adequacy of existing regulatory regimes.
- Society expects that petroleum exploration and extraction activities will be regulated by a robust regime in which operators maintain safety to minimise the risk of a major accident and the regulator provides assurance that this is being done.
- The 2010 Comparative Review of Health, Safety and Environmental Legislation for Offshore Petroleum Operations recommended strengthening New Zealand’s safety case regime.
The Ministry received 25 submissions on the discussion paper from individuals, exploration and production companies, industry associations, unions, third-party inspection bodies, regional councils, iwi authorities, an industry training organisation, an environmental interest group, and a Member of Parliament. A summary of the submissions is also available.
Most submitters supported the majority of the proposals, with comments largely directed at the details of the proposals.
The Department of Labour undertook a review of the Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999.
The discussion document was released in April 2012 - Review of the Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999 [pdf, 61 pages, 592KB]