24 May 2012

National Electronic Approvals Tracking System for offshore petroleum now in operation

by Kevin O'Sullivan, Tom Jasper

NEATS is expected to improve the timeliness, accountability and transparency of offshore petroleum approval processes.

The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) launched the National Electronic Approvals Tracking System (NEATS) on 7 May 2012. NEATS is an electronic register providing public access to information concerning offshore petroleum titles and applications.

NEATS provides a unified register of offshore petroleum titles and applications. It replaces an assortment of registers previously maintained by the respective State Departments (for example the Petroleum and Geothermal Register maintained by the Department of Mines and Petroleum WA[1]).

NEATS was developed as part of a broader reform process to establish a single national regulator for offshore petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters.

It is expected that the introduction of an electronic approvals tracking system will improve the timeliness, accountability and transparency of approval processes.

NEATS is being released in two stages.

The initial release comprises three main features: 

  • a title register;
  • an approvals tracking mechanism; and 
  • an interactive map.

Title register

Details of current petroleum titles are contained in the title register. This includes details of exploration permits, retention leases, production licenses, pipeline licenses, special prospecting authorities and access authorities. NEATS enables users to find title details such as location, size, current title holders, work programs, blocks, locations, as well as registered title instruments and agreements.

Approvals tracking

NEATS includes an approvals tracking screen which shows the status and progress of all applications which require a decision of the Joint Authority, including applications for the grant and renewal of titles and variation, suspension and extension of title conditions.

The site also provides the ability to search for individual applications and find further detail on the number of days an application has spent at each stage of the assessment process.

Interactive map

The interactive map feature can be used to identify titles geospatially and provides summary details of specific titles.

Further improvements to NEATS are currently in development. The additional features that can be expected in the next release include:

  • an industry log-on with roles-based user management; 
  • a company based task lists of work and applications in progress and actions required; 
  • online fee payment facilities; 
  • application tracking in greater detail for applicants; and 
  • a process for online lodgement of applications.

[1] Note the Petroleum and Geothermal Register (WA) continues to exist in respect of petroleum titles in onshore and inland waters and also in respect of onshore petroleum operations.Back to article


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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.