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Ownership of petroleum in Western Australia is vested in the Crown. However, discovery and development is carried out by the private sector. Petroleum titles define the rights and the obligations of the government and the explorer/developer.
Under Australian law, Government rather than private individuals own petroleum rights.
In the Australian Federal system, both the national Government (the Commonwealth) and the State Government have important roles affecting petroleum exploration and development.
The Commonwealth is responsible for broad economic policy and international matters, including personal and company income tax, interest rates, the overall level of Government spending, foreign investment guidelines, trade and customs, commercial corporations and international agreements.
The State owns and allocates petroleum rights, administers petroleum operations including occupational health and safety, and collects royalties on petroleum produced (the only exception is offshore petroleum seaward of the first three nautical miles of the Territorial Sea – here petroleum rights are owned by the Commonwealth, but day-to-day administration is still carried out by the State).
Petroleum exploration and development titles may be granted over Crown land, Pastoral land, Reserved land, Private land and Native Title land where the provisions of the Native Title Act 1993 (Commonwealth) have been satisfied.
Petroleum titles are granted subject to conditions, which require separate submissions for each phase of exploration activity so that the requirements of other land owners and users who may be affected can be addressed.
Periodically the government invites interested parties to bid for petroleum exploration acreage by discrete area releases. It is a competitive bidding process (although not all areas attract multiple bids) and the applicant which proposes the most comprehensive work program, and is both financially and technically able, is awarded a title.
A petroleum pipeline is defined as a pipeline that conveys naturally occurring hydrocarbons (petroleum).
Pipelines are generally high pressure trunk lines and include storage tanks and ancillary works. A Pipeline licence permits the holder to construct a petroleum pipeline, which is generally buried and visually unobtrusive, along a narrow corridor which is accommodated by way of easements registered under the appropriate legislation. The area required for a Pipeline Licence varies but usually for a pipeline proper it is a narrow corridor of about 50 metres for access purposes. Pipeline Licences are subject to stringent public safety and environmental conditions. Matters relating to pipelines are managed under the Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969.
For more information contact our office on (08) 9222 3459, or see www.dmp.wa.gov.au/Petroleum/Petroleum-248.aspx.