THE AUSTRALIAN Government has appointed Stuart Smith as the new chief executive of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

Mr Smith was formerly the director general of the WA Department of Fisheries, where he was responsible for ensuring the sustainable use of aquatic resources in WA and adjacent Commonwealth waters.

Previous roles included the deputy director general of the WA Department of Industry and Resources, with responsibility for regulating and facilitating major mining and petroleum projects, investment attraction and trade promotion.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said Mr Smith had a deep understanding of both the unique operating environment of the Australian oil and gas industry, as well as global conditions.

“NOPSEMA is the one-stop shop for approvals for offshore petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters, a reform this Government put in place to streamline the approvals process and cut excessive red tape,” he said.

“Its focus during the next phase will be on strengthening relationships with industry stakeholders as well as confirming its place as an international leading practice regulator.”

The appointment was also welcomed by Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive David Byers, who said the appointment came at a critical stage for the industry.

“In an increasingly competitive and expensive operating environment, Mr Smith will be required to deliver strong and robust oversight of the industry while also recognising the importance of streamlined, effective and objective-based regulation,” he said.

Mr Macfarlane and Mr Byers also paid tribute to outgoing NOPSEMA chief executive Jane Cutler for her dedication and contribution to improving occupational health and safety and environmental outcomes.