NOPSEMA, Compliance strategy to address complex risks

NOPSEMA is federal regulator for offshore energy. Its main functions are to regulate the compliance of offshore petroleum activities to ensure they are conducted in accordance with environmental and safety regulations.

The regulator follows a standard approach to compliance and regulation, this includes a process of assessment, inspection, investigation and enforcement where issues of non-compliance arise. In addition, NOPSEMA has adopted a holistic approach to address complex regulatory problems and external issues that affect the compliance of the entities they regulate.

For example, the standard approach to compliance is not effective in understanding and responding to issues relating to aging assets which become an increasing maintenance and regulatory burden for oil and gas companies that operate offshore oil rigs. The failure to comply with regulation related to aging assets is a system-wide problem is caused by factors outside of the control of the operator. For example, issues on non-compliance arise where spare parts become unavailable or maintenance teams become unfamiliar with older equipment.

To address these system-wide problems, NOPSEMA has adopted problem-centric approach to strategic compliance in addition to the standard inspection and investigation-based processes. This approach tackles each problem as it occurs, using the variety of tools available to the regulator. NOPSEMA have outlined five steps that make up the strategic compliance process:

  • Gather intelligence to identify emerging issues.
  • Define the problem based on the intelligence gathered.
  • Develop a strategy including measures of success and a Compliance Plan.
  • Coordinate progress reporting and implementation.
  • Facilitate periodic reviews.

This approach aims to:

  • use existing tools in a more targeted way
  • develop new ways to reduce risk
  • engage other contemporary regulatory models and methods
  • draw from academic disciplines such as behavioural science, organisational psychology and regulatory intelligence

NOPSEMA’s strategic compliance capabilities enable NOPSEMA to effectively meet their goals to protect the offshore workforce and environment and address risks to the environment, oil-well stability and safety issues relating to complex problems. The re-defined approach to strategic compliance also allows NOPSEMA to adapt to new and emerging risks.

This compliance strategy is published on the website and it is communicated through their publication ‘The Regulator’ and through their news and publications section of the website. It is updated regularly through consultations with stakeholders.

Prepared for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet by Nous Group.