Proposed regulations for decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure

Under development
This regulation is not finalised or in effect.

In 2017 the Government strengthened the regulatory framework for the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas structure and pipelines in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

This included a new requirement for operators to provide a decommissioning plan before applying for a decommissioning-related marine consent.

The requirement for a decommissioning plan will only take effect once regulations have been introduced.

Status

Cabinet has now approved a final policy approach following public consultation on the proposed requirements of the decommissioning regulations.

This includes the:

  • information that must be included in a decommissioning plan
  • process for dealing with a plan and criteria against which it must be assessed
  • the process for making amendments to an accepted plan
  • cost recovery for decommissioning plans.

The next step is for the Parliamentary Counsel Office to draft the regulations to reflect the approved policy approach.

Why the proposed regulations are needed

There are four oil and gas production fields in New Zealand’s EEZ – all off Taranaki. All of the installations and related infrastructure connected to these fields will need to be taken out of service (decommissioned) when they reach the end of their economic or productive life. It is estimated that New Zealand’s first decommissioning project will begin in the next five years.

In 2017, the Resource Legislation Amendment Act introduced a number of changes to the EEZ Act, including a requirement for owners of offshore oil and gas installations to submit a decommissioning plan to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The purpose of the decommissioning plan is to incentivise operators to plan for decommissioning and engage early with the public and the EPA. Early engagement will help inform decisions about the different decommissioning options that might be appropriate.

The requirement for a decommissioning plan will only take effect once regulations have been introduced.

For information on the 2017 changes to the EEZ Act see the regulatory impact summary for the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015: Decommissioning of offshore installations in the EEZ.