The Department for Mining and Energy has published a discussion paper relating to a draft Bill to amend the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act.

Submission are due by 5pm on Friday 25 June, via the website.

The Draft Bill is based on comments received during public consultation on the PGE Act issues paper between 11 February and 26 March 2021. Given the predominately administrative nature of the proposed amendments, no major concerns were received. However, the submissions indicated strong support for extending the scope of the current provisions under the PGE Act to also licence and regulate the generation of renewable hydrogen.

Some of the key amendments proposed in the Bill include:

  1. Revising the title of the PGE Act to the ‘Energy Resources Act’ to reflect the broader scope of the Act to include future fuels – e.g. hydrogen (Clause 5).
  2. In response to submissions from the hydrogen industry, the current scope of provisions under the PGE Act will be expended to also include the generation of any hydrogen from means not already permissible under the existing Act, such as electrolysis of water using electricity. This amendment will afford all hydrogen generation sectors the same leading proactive regulatory and one-window to government regime as is currently afforded to the oil and gas industries under the existing PGE Act. This will be achieved through introducing a specific Hydrogen Energy Licence. (Clause 26).
  3. Improved stakeholder participation requirements by:
    1. more explicitly requiring stakeholder engagement by the licensee when preparing Statements of Environmental Objectives (SEOs) (Clauses 44 and 46) and;
    2. introducing a mandatory 30-day public consultation period for all Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and SEOs as part of DEM’s assessment and approvals process (Clause 50).
  4. Introduce a Statutory Security so that the Crown has first priority over a licensee’s property in the event of bankruptcy (Clause 60).
  5. Benchmarking penalties under the PGE Act to be consistent with the Mining Act 1971.
  6. Introducing the concept of Ministerial determinations, as provided for under the Mining Act 1971, to allow for greater flexibility and effectiveness in clarifying and guiding regulatory requirements, particularly for reporting.
  7. To achieve greater clarity and consistency of the Act’s purpose and key intentions, the objects of the PGE Act will be modified to incorporate sustainable ecological development, public benefit and compensation (Clause 6).
  8. A number of definitions will be revised and introduced in the Act (Clause 7),

Additional information can be found on the consultation home page. See also an information sheet released 23 June spelling out SA’s proposed Hydrogen Energy Licensing provisions.