This is an update on recent amendments made to water-related legislation and its effect on both petroleum and mining tenement holders.
Amendments to the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (PG Act) and the Water Act 2000 are now in force. These amendments will change the way resource authority holders take or interfere with surface and underground water.
Some of the key amendments are:
For petroleum tenure holders:
- Petroleum tenure holders now have authority under the PG Act to use associated water for any purpose. Previously, the use of such water was restricted to using it for another authorised activity, or providing it to an owner or occupier of overlapping or adjoining land for stock or domestic purposes. Previously, use for any other purposes required a water licence under the Water Act. Use of associated water is now authorised for any purpose under the PG Act, and a separate water licence is no longer required.
- The holder of an authority to prospect, petroleum lease or water monitoring authority may now drill a water observation or supply bore, or convert a petroleum well to a water observation or supply bore, without needing to engage a licensed water bore driller. This amendment recognises the competencies of a tenure holder to undertake the drilling or conversion activities itself, without the imposition of additional time, cost and practical constraints.
- The amendments clarify that pipelines carrying produced water free of petroleum will be regulated under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and those carrying produced water that contain traces of petroleum will be regulated under the PG Act.
- The definition of “operating plant” has been amended with the effect that a facility used solely to treat associated water (with no traces of petroleum) is no longer captured under the safety provisions of the PG Act. A treatment facility will be captured only where the plant contains petroleum incidentally collected with the water. The intention here is that where petroleum exists and poses a risk, the facility is best administered under the PG Act in a similar manner to a petroleum plant.
For all tenure holders, including holders of mining tenements:
- A proponent no longer requires a water licence to divert a watercourse associated with a resource activity, provided that the impacts of the interference are assessed as part of the grant of an environmental authority. This will avoid duplication of the assessment and approval processes under the Water Act and Environmental Protection Act 1994.
For further detail on the recent amendments to the PG Act and Water Act, please see our previous Alert here.