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Proposed Technical Regulations for the
Joint Petroleum Development Area

June 2008. Updated 1 July 2014

In late May 2008, the Australia-Timor-Leste Joint Commission for the Timor Sea Designated Authority (TSDA) briefly circulated  draft Technical Regulations for the Exploration and Exploitation of Petroleum in the Joint Petroleum Development Area for public comment. The Regulations are expected to be approved before the TSDA goes out of existence on 30 June. (Click here for information on the TSDA merging into an RDTL National Petroleum Authority (NPA).)

On 16 June 2003, the Joint Commission approved Interim Regulations that the Designated Authority is currently applying. According to the TSDA, it has been working since 2006 to improve and modernize the Interim Regulations.

According to Article 28 of the proposed NPA decree-law, these regulations will become Timor-Leste law when the TSDA is merged into the NPA in July 2008.

On 5 June 2008, La'o Hamutuk submitted 10 pages of analysis of the Technical Regulations.  We met with the TSDA to discuss our concerns on 9 June.

On 11 June, the TSDA informed us that they will re-circulate the Technical Regulations for further comments. A revised draft was circulated on 16 June and comments are due by 20 June. After studying the revisions, La'o Hamutuk wrote to the TSDA as follows:

La'o Hamutuk will not be making another submission regarding the draft Technical Regulations for the TSDA, although we appreciate the opportunity.

We were gratified to see that the TSDA has incorporated many of the specific suggestions we made in our 5 June submission in the revised draft. Unfortunately, most of our more important concerns, including transparency, public consultation before the TSDA approves plans, coordination with other government bodies, and ensuring that all workers have access to health and safety mechanisms seem not to have been addressed, and we reiterate them.

A four-day consultation period is grossly inadequate for such complex and lengthy regulations, and hope that the new NPA will re-open the process in reasonable way.

The regulations were not finalized before the National Petroleum Authority (ANP) replaced the TSDA in July 2008, and as of March 2011 the process had not been completed. See below for recent developments.

The main points of La'o Hamutuk's 5 June 2008 submission were:

  • Despite the very brief time for this consultation, La’o Hamutuk has identified many flaws in these draft regulations, and there are undoubtedly many more. The Consultation should be re-opened by the new NPA before the regulations are put into effect.

  • This public consultation is far too short, not publicized, linguistically limited and inappropriately conducted.

  • These Technical Regulations are part of an excessively complex regime applying to JPDA Annex F and non Annex F projects, and potentially to Timor-Leste’s sovereign territory after the TSDA becomes part of the NPA. Efforts should be made to simplify them and bring them into line with Timor-Leste regulations.

  • These Regulations apply under two Petroleum Mining Codes, which creates ambiguity, contradictions and lack of clarity. Definitions and other language should be incorporated in the regulations rather than referring to the Codes.

  • Some safeguards in the Australian Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act from which much of these regulations were derived have been lost.

  • At least six types of documents and plans described in the Technical Regulations should be circulated for public comment prior to their approval.

  • At least 15 additional categories of documents, plans and reports described in the Technical Regulations should be published or made available for public inspection.

  • Waivers and exemptions to operators from these Technical Regulations should only be used in rare, exceptional circumstances, if at all.

  • Operators must be legally required to implement approved plans, with effective sanctions for noncompliance with regulations.

  • Representatives of other oversight and law enforcement agencies should have oversight of TSDA Inspections.

  • Health and safety should be to a “reasonably achievable” standard, not “reasonably practicable.”

  • Provisions for worker representation, health and safety committee operations, and rights of health and safety representatives contain many loopholes and should be strengthened.

  • Regulations regarding health and hazardous materials need to be strengthened.

  • Environmental regulations need to be applied more widely, without exception, and include global climate impacts.

  • Decommissioning should be planned from the start of a project, with explicit standards and objectives.

  • There is no clear legal basis for the fees described in these regulations.

Follow these links to key documents.

Relevant laws and treaties:

In March 2011, the National Petroleum Authority (ANP) circulated four requests for Expressions of Interest.  For more information click on one of the documents below, which have been published in Timor-Leste newspapers, or go to the ANP website.

  • JPDA PSC Model Review: analyzing where the current model Production-Sharing Contract needs revision. Closing date 25 April 2011.

    TLEA Regulation: Drafting of the Timor-Leste Exclusive Area (TLEA) Offshore Technical Regulation. Closing date 24 April 2011.

  • TLEA PSC Model Review: analyzing where the current model Production-Sharing Contract needs revision. Closing date 25 April 2011.

    Already passed:

  • FPSO Safety Case: Review the Operational Safety Case for the Floating Production, Storage and Offtake vessel to be used at Kitan. Closing date 31 March 2011.

  • BU Process Inspection: Process inspection of the Bayu-Undan offshore platforms and FSO. Closing date 1 April 2011.

La'o Hamutuk is circulating these announcements because we believe it is essential for Timor-Leste to find the most qualified, impartial and independent experts possible to perform these crucial activities.

In May and June 2014, ANP held "public consultations" about the new draft TLEA technical regulations and Model TLEA and onshore PSCs. La'o Hamutuk made a submission.

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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