Australian gov't to set up national offshore petroleum regulator

13:47, August 11, 2010      

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A re-elected Gillard government would push ahead with plans for a national offshore petroleum regulator to ensure safety was a top priority, according to Australia's Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.

The minister told an oil and gas industry safety conference in Perth on Wednesday that last year's Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea had further strengthened his resolve to set up a national authority.

The industry had long argued for such an approach, Ferguson said.

Evidence presented to the commission of inquiry into the Montara spill in August last year revealed serious deficiencies in the Northern Territory (NT) government's oversight of oil field operations.

The NT government was addressing those concerns but a Gillard government intended to shift to a national regulator from Jan. 1, 2012, Ferguson said.

"The move to a single national regulator is one that I will be vigorously pursuing if the Gillard Labor government is returned to office on 21 August," he said.

"I would regard this as one of my priorities."

The current arrangement for states and territories to have designated authority to oversee the off-shore petroleum industry had led to significant duplication, slow and inconsistent decision making, inefficient use of expertise and a resistance to change, the minister noted.

Ferguson said all state and territory governments, apart from the West Australian (WA) government, endorsed a national regulator but he would continue discussions with WA ministers and hoped to have the issue finalized by Christmas.

Source: Xinhua


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