Legislative framework

The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act) provides a licensing scheme to enable the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore renewable energy and offshore electricity infrastructure projects. The OEI Act framework applies to offshore locations from three nautical miles from the coast to the boundary of Australia’s exclusive economic zone (coastal waters remain the responsibility of the adjacent state and Northern Territory governments). The OEI Act framework operates under the principle of shared use of the offshore marine environment, recognising all users and balancing competing interests.

Under the OEI Act framework, the Minister for Energy makes all licensing decisions, including declaring areas suitable for offshore renewable energy infrastructure, both at a commercial scale and for research and development of new and emerging technologies. The declaration of an offshore area is informed through consultation with stakeholders including existing marine users, state and territory governments and Federal Government agencies with responsibilities in the marine area and the community.

The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar (the Registrar) is responsible for administering the licensing scheme, including assessing licence applications and making recommendations to the Minister for Energy. The allocation of licences in a declared area is merit-based and includes an assessment of technical and financial capability and the overall suitability of the proposed project. Staff within the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) assist the Registrar.

Prior to commencing offshore infrastructure activities, a licence holder is required to submit a management plan to the OIR for assessment. Management plans will contain details about the operational aspects of a project and content will vary according to the licence and type of project.

Regulatory process map

  • Flow chart of offshore electricity infrastructure framework
  • Regulatory Roadmap

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