1 On 17 September 2013, the Legislative Council referred clauses 11 and 12 of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (Bill) to the Standing Committee on Legislation for its consideration and report.
2 This 170 clause Bill amends the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 (PGERA) to provide for the onshore geological storage of greenhouse gas substances (GHG) and the Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969 to provide for the transport of GHG. The Bill also deals with property rights for greenhouse gas storage formation, retention and injection licences and injection, site closure and long-term liability issues.
3 The Bill is the second legislative instrument that provides for the regulation of GHG substances in Western Australia since the Barrow Island Act 2003.
4 Clause 11 of the Bill proposes to insert a section 11(2A) into PGERA and amend section 11(2) of PGERA to provide the Minister for Mines and Petroleum (Minister) with the same power to enter private land and apply the same compensation rights to affected landowners and people with an interest in the land, to that which applies to searching for and conducting petroleum or geothermal energy resource operations.
5 Clause 11 of the Bill will amend section 11 of PGERA to provide:
6 The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), in accordance with their land policy, do not propose to rely on the Minister authorising entry onto land under section 11.
· A right to access land - The Minister will be provided with the power to enter onto and occupy any land in Western Australia, temporarily or permanently, to carry on ‘GHG operations’ (as defined in the Bill);
· Compensation – Compensation will be payable to occupiers or persons with an estate or interest in the land entered onto by the Minister. Other provisions in PGERA also set out compensation payable.
· A compensation framework – Compensation claims shall be made, dealt with and determined under Part 10 of the Lands Administration Act 1997.
7 Section 11 has not been used since PGERA’s enactment. It is seen as a reserve power and a strategic provision. DMP’s policy and practice has been to undertake community engagement, negotiation and agreement with affected private landowners and titleholders that settles compensation before access to land or land is taken.
8 DMP actively support the principle of consultation and negotiation and recommends a template agreement between parties that clarifies each party’s obligation.
9 The Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia supports a code of conduct that enables direct negotiation between the landholder and petroleum and gas companies over matters of individual interest.
10 The Committee did not identify any substantive issues with clause 11 and considers this clause appropriate.
11 The amendments proposed by clause 11 will provide the same rights and compensation framework applying to petroleum or geothermal energy resource operations to public and private landowners and occupiers impacted by GHG exploration and operations. It will also provide compensation for future damage.
12 Whilst clause 12 does not directly relate to GHG operations or compensation, it does specify the rights of GHG licensees and permit holders in regard to GHG exploration and storage activities. The Committee did not identify any issue with clause 12.
Findings and Recommendations
13 Findings and Recommendations are grouped as they appear at the page indicated:
Finding 1: The language used to describe land in clause 11 of the Bill and section 11 of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 is no longer used in the Land Administration Act 1997. Contemporary drafting language to describe land should be adopted.
Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Legislative Council amend clause 11(1) of the Bill (which proposes to insert section 11(2A) into the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967) to insert terminology to describe land that is consistent with the terminology used in the Land Administration Act 1997.
Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Legislative Council amend section 11(1) of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 to insert terminology to describe land that is consistent with the terminology used in the Land Administration Act 1997.
Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that clause 11 of the Bill be adopted, subject to the amendments proposed in Recommendation 1.
Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that clause 12 of the Bill be adopted as printed.