New strategy published to drive better industry and research community collaboration to enhance knowledge and inform management decisions

A newly revised Research Strategy has been published to provide the offshore energy industry and the research community with a clear vision on what knowledge and management challenges need to be addressed through targeted, collaborative and integrated environmental research relevant to the offshore sector.

As Australia’s independent regulator for offshore energy in Commonwealth waters, NOPSEMA uses balanced and quality research outputs to inform our assessments as part of meeting our legislated functions. And although NOPSEMA does not carry out or commission research – in collaboration with our Commonwealth government agency partners – it is in a unique position to identify key science needs and research priorities relevant to offshore energy industries.

Cameron Grebe, NOPSEMA’s Head of Environment, Renewables and Decommissioning, said the new document is designed encourage industry and the research community together to focus on research that is needed to inform robust, evidence-based development decisions in the offshore energy sector.
“Offshore energy companies routinely commission monitoring and research programs to inform individual project. By pooling resources and working in a strategic and collaborative manner, there’s the potential to address research priorities in a much more efficient and targeted way and help support evidence-based decision-making, enhanced management outcomes and drive trust in the broader community.

“There have been some examples where a collaborative approach has been taken to fill gaps in scientific knowledge, we can see far greater opportunities and need given the growing pressures on our oceans, the competing demands for marine resource use and emerging offshore energy industries.,” said Cameron.

Cameron highlighted that adopting standardised methodologies as well as establishing data transparency and sharing arrangements would help support common or regional research priorities across a broader range of industry activities and scientific disciplines.

Raquel Carter, NOPSEMA’s Chief Environmental Scientist, who has been central to the Strategy’s production, said this collaborative approach is needed to better leverage the research capabilities of industry and academia to support the approvals process and management of offshore energy projects.
“We’ve been promoting an industry-wide collaborative approach and encouraging both the collection and sharing of fit-for purpose data to address key research priorities which we’ve identified through the course of our regulatory work.

“Addressing these needs and priorities collaboratively, especially where regional scale research effort is needed, will deliver broad benefits to regulators, industry and the wider community that would otherwise be challenging to achieve when tackled by individual companies and on individual projects,” she added.
With a stated vision of driving a ‘collaborative approach to prioritising, funding and designing research that will deliver outputs to enhance confidence in the environmental management of offshore energy projects’, the Research Strategy also includes NOPSEMA’s goals and role in supporting that vision.

Included in the Research Strategy is a list of research priorities, based on current and emerging issues and industry activities, to help guide industry and the research community funding and scientific design decisions. These priorities will be updated regularly. NOPSEMA welcomes feedback on the strategy over the coming months and encourages industry and academia to continue efforts continue collaborative efforts and consider end use benefits in study design and delivery.

Notes: The Research Strategy, entitled ‘Promoting a collaborative approach to prioritising, funding and designing research to deliver improved outcomes in the environmental management of offshore energy projects”, will be open for a period of public consultation for two months, closing on 12 May 2023.

To provide feedback, visit the Consultation Hub on NOPSEMA’s website.

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