Last updated 14 December 2016     This chapter is currently under review.

The Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld) (Petroleum and Gas Act) regulates the tenure, royalty and safety aspects of petroleum exploration, extraction and pipelines. The Petroleum Act 1923 (Qld) continues to regulate some petroleum licences granted prior to 1993 due to native title issues.

Petroleum is defined to include any hydrocarbon in gas or liquid form, including products extracted from solids such as coal or oil shale. Therefore, in addition to liquid petroleum products such as oil, this regime regulates gas production, including coal seam gas (CSG). Gas production and pipelines are currently undergoing major expansion in central Queensland and Gladstone.

There are two main tenements that provide rights to access land to explore for petroleum and to produce petroleum. An authority to prospect (ATP) provides rights of access to land for the purpose of exploring for petroleum such as by exploratory drilling. A petroleum lease is required for production of petroleum.

As for mining, the environmental protection aspects of petroleum extraction are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (Environmental Protection Act). Exploration and production of petroleum requires an environmental authority under ch 5 of the Environmental Protection Act. There are three different types of application: standard application, variation application and site-specific application (see Standard, variation and site-specific applications above). The eligibility criteria and standard conditions are available online at the Queensland Government’s Business and Industry Portal.

Making submissions on a petroleum application

There are no submission rights regarding the grant of an authority to prospect or a petroleum lease under the Petroleum and Gas Act.

Opportunities for landholders and members of the public to make submissions are generally limited to site-specific applications for an environmental authority under the Environmental Protection Act. There are few rights to make submissions for standard applications. Submissions can be made during any environmental impact statement (EIS) process when the draft terms of reference and EIS are publicly notified.

Applications for site-specific applications for environmental authorities for a petroleum lease and any associated EIS can be publicly notified in a variety of ways, including:

  • advertising in a newspaper circulating generally in the area where the activity is proposed to be carried out for a specified period
  • advertising on the Coordinator-General’s website
  • advertising on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website
  • providing access to relevant documents on a public website created by the applicant.

A submission on the grant of an environmental authority for a petroleum activity must:

  • be in writing or made electronically
  • state the name and address of each submitter
  • be made to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
  • be received on or before the last day of the submission period
  • state the grounds of the submission and the facts and circumstances relied on in support of the grounds (s 161 Environmental Protection Act).

If an EIS for the mine was prepared under ch 3 of the Environmental Protection Act, a properly made submission about the EIS is taken to be a properly made submission about the application (s 150 Environmental Protection Act).

Review and appeals

Under the Environmental Protection Act, a submitter on an application for a site-specific application for an environmental authority for a petroleum activity has a right to seek internal review by the department and appeal to the Land Court as a dissatisfied person if the application is approved (s 520(2)).

An internal review must be made in the approved form within 10 business days after notice of the original decision is given (s 521).

A submitter can also appeal to the Land Court (s 524).

The appeal must be made within 22 business days after the appellant receives notice of the decision, unless the court allows a longer time (s 525).

The appeal is by way of rehearing, unaffected by the review decision (s 527) and the appellant may call expert evidence to support the appeal.

Costs may be awarded if the appeal is unsuccessful.

Entry requirements and compensation

Prior to entering private land under a petroleum authority, an entry notice must be given to each owner and occupier of the land (s 495 Petroleum and Gas Act). The entry notice must set out the matters listed in s 496 of the Petroleum and Gas Act such as the period of entry and the activities that will be conducted.

A person must not enter private land in a petroleum authority’s area to carry out an advanced activity for the authority unless each eligible claimant for the land is a party to an appropriate conduct and compensation agreement (s 500 Petroleum and Gas Act). An ‘advanced activity’ means an activity that will impact on the business or land-use activities of any owner or occupier of the land such as levelling of drilling pads and digging sumps, vegetation clear-felling, carrying out a seismic survey using explosives, or constructing a track or access road.

A conduct and compensation agreement is unnecessary to enter land to conduct preliminary activities that will have no impact or only a minor impact on the business or land use such as walking the area of the permit or licence, driving along an existing road or track in the area, taking soil or water samples, or survey pegging.

Chapter 5 of the Petroleum and Gas Act provides detailed requirements and procedures for negotiating access agreements, and conduct and compensation agreements. Disputes that cannot be resolved by the landholder and the authority holder may be referred to the Land Court.

Further guidance on making submissions and appealing against a petroleum activity is provided in the Environmental Defenders Office’s handbook Mining and Coal Seam Gas Law in Queensland: A guide for the community.