- On 28 November 2014 the New South Wales Government introduced an amendment to the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 to enable the cancellation of all current petroleum exploration title applications.
- While no compensation has been prescribed by this amendment, it does provide for the refund of application fees and priority for future applications by those applicants whose applications were cancelled.
The Petroleum (OnShore) Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Act 2014 (NSW) (the Amendment) commenced on 28 November 2014, forming a stepping stone to the New South Wales Government’s greater Gas Plan. The NSW Gas Plan, released on 13 November 2014, proposes the reform of gas exploration regulation to secure gas supplies in New South Wales and to develop a safe and sustainable industry.
The Amendmentwhich amends the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 (NSW), has the effect of cancelling all existing petroleum exploration title applications.
Specifically, the Amendment will cancel 16 existing petroleum applications which were lodged under the previous regulatory regime. It will not affect any existing petroleum titles which have already been approved.
The Government intends to introduce its Strategic Release Framework in July 2015, which will designate and release certain areas for gas exploration. In the interim, the Government has indicated that no new petroleum title applications will be considered.
The Amendmentalso provides that:
- Application fees paid in respect of cancelled applications will be refunded
- No compensation is payable by or on behalf of the State to applicants for cancelled applications or in connection with the new provisions
- Affected applicants will be given priority to apply for areas released pursuant to the Strategic Release Framework 2015. Should affected applicants have their new application rejected, or fail to apply within 28 days of receipt of the invitation to apply, then applications will be considered from other parties.
The Amendment is part of a series of initial legislative reforms introduced by the New South Wales Government during the fourth quarter of 2014 that will pave the way for more comprehensive resources legislation due to be introduced in 2015.