An international mining and energy law expert has dubbed the West Australian Department pf Mines and Petroleum as one of the top three regulatory organisations in the world.
The expert, Dr. Tina Hunter, made the comments following questioning on the back of her recommendations in a 2011 review made on the State's shale and tight gas activities in Western Australia.
She said it was one of only three – the others being South Australia's and the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – that she recognised as a competent regulator.
“In my view they are professional and have the necessary experience and processes to implement best practice in the regulation of unconventional natural gas,” Hunter said.
“The DMP is exceptionally competent.”
She went on to dismiss claims that the DMP would have a conflict of interest in enforcing regulations on an industry some state it 'subsidises'.
“[The] DMP does not subsidise the industry,” she said.
“The State Government has several roles as owner of the resources, regulator, granter of access to the resource and the body that collects revenue.
“This inherently creates conflict for any government agency, not DMP in particular.”
Recently the DMP opened its doors to the public to comment on its mining proposal reforms.
The move is part of the Department’s wider Reforming Environmental Regulation program, which the DMP says aims to “ensure environmental regulation of mining is focused on identifying and managing environmental risks to achieve environmental outcomes”.
When asked if Hunter believed new resource management regulations being introduced by the DMP were adequate, she stated "as you would have seen in my report, the DMP is a fine regulator that needs laws to support it".
“The laws that have been drafted and are being implemented will give the regulator the necessary tools to effectively regulate petroleum activities in WA.”
Hunter is the inaugural director of the Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law, and teaches at the University of Queensland, and has also consulted to a number of industry groups in jurisdictions as varied as Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, and Russia.