Sample management

Contents of this page:

About sample management

In early 2012, NOPTA conducted the National Review of Offshore Physical Data Management (NROPDM) to identify the most cost effective and efficient option for receiving, storing and providing access to offshore petroleum mining samples (cores, cuttings, slides etc). The review was conducted in collaboration with Geoscience Australia (GA) and in consultation with state/NT data managers, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) and petroleum titleholders. The final report from this review can be requested by emailing data@nopta.gov.au.

The primary recommendation from this review was the establishment of the National Offshore Petroleum Data and Core Repository (NOPDCR)—operated in collaboration between NOPTA, GA and the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).

The establishment of the NOPDCR ensures that GA's Canberra Core Store continues to be the storage location for the 1/3 core, one set of cuttings collected and all fluid or gas samples required to be submitted under the Act.

DMP's Carlisle Core Store in Perth is now the storage and sampling location for the 2/3 core and one set of cuttings for all offshore jurisdictions.

These arrangements and the act of splitting the samples between the two locations is for risk mitigation management and provides access to samples on both sides of the continent. The GA collection is primarily maintained for archival purposes, although sampling may be allowed under conditions imposed by GA.

The offshore petroleum mining samples previously located at other state or NT repositories have been consolidated and relocated to Canberra and Perth. They are now available for viewing and sampling by industry.

Submission requirements for petroleum mining samples

Detailed guidelines for the submission of all offshore petroleum mining samples have been created to assist operators and contractors with the submission of physical samples to the NOPDCR. The 'Commonwealth Offshore Petroleum Sample Submission Standards' are available through the Offshore Petroleum Guidelines page.

Queries regarding these guidelines should be directed to data@nopta.gov.au.

Viewing, borrowing and sampling of petroleum mining samples (including drill core)

Viewing, borrowing or sampling of confidential petroleum mining samples is restricted to the titleholder(s) who obtained the samples or other persons nominated by them.

Please direct requests for approval to view, borrow or sample confidential petroleum mining samples to data@nopta.gov.au and provide the following information:

  • name, address and country of the company or person seeking access
  • title number
  • well name(s)
  • description and details of the samples (including depths where appropriate)
  • details of level of access required (ie viewing, borrowing or sampling)
  • confirmation of the titleholder(s) responsible for the drilling of the well(s)
  • evidence in the form of a letter that access is approved by the titleholder(s) responsible for drilling the well (where another operator is requesting access to confidential samples).

Viewing, borrowing and sampling publicly released (open-file) petroleum mining samples is not regulated by the RMA Regulations. Conditions of viewing, borrowing or sampling publicly released petroleum mining samples are determined by the particular repository in which they are located and may be obtained from contacting those repositories directly at either:

Export of petroleum mining samples and reporting requirements

Under regulations 7.06–7.10 titleholders who have conducted drilling operations must seek approval prior to exporting confidential petroleum mining samples from Australia.

Unless otherwise authorised, the approval is for a maximum period of 12 months. Where samples are not subjected to destructive analysis, all remaining materials must be returned to the originating repository. Any residues or thing sections created must be submitted to the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (please refer to the Data submissions addresses webpage).

Approval by NOPTA is not required for the export of petroleum mining samples that have been publicly released. However, approval to export may be required by the repository from which the open-file samples are obtained.

Under regulation 7.08, the titleholder must provide a report on the progress of the sampling analysis within 12 months of authorisation to export being provided; and at the end of each subsequent 12-month period for which the samples(s) remain outside Australia; in addition to a final report outlining the results of the analysis.

Please direct requests for approval to export to data@nopta.gov.au and provide the following information:

  • title number
  • well name(s)
  • rig release date(s)
  • confirmation that the titleholder/operator requesting the export approval was responsible for drilling of the well
  • the current location of the samples
  • description and details of the samples (including depths where appropriate)
  • the name, address and country of the company that will be undertaking the analysis
  • details of analysis
  • whether the analysis is destructive
  • whether the analysis will result in the creation of thin sections/slides
  • name, address and country of the company undertaking the analysis
  • anticipated timeframe for returning samples and reporting
  • confirmation that the titleholder/operator will be able to submit the required sample amount(s) under regulation 7.20, for sample types approved for export.

Variation to sample submission requirements

A variation to the submissions requirements for an offshore petroleum activity may be authorised by the Titles Administrator under part 7 of the RMA Regulations. Variations that may be considered include extended submission timing, non-standard submissions, non-standard sample size or quantity or requests to retain, preserve or resinate core.

For petroleum mining samples, the following variations must be approved prior to the submission due date:

  • variations in sample size or quantity due to drilling constraints
  • delays in submissions due to contractor or additional analysis requirements
  • requests to retain, preserve or resinate core.

A request to vary submission requirements should be directed to data@nopta.gov.au and include the following information:

  • title number(s)
  • activity details, such as well name
  • the relevant regulation in which the request is being made (which submission requirement)
  • the relevant submission type, such as 1/3 core or drill cuttings
  • the reason for this request
  • requested alternative, for example new submission date or quantity
  • any foreseeable impact the request may have on the availability of the sample for public release.

The submission variation approval number should be quoted on all related correspondence and the relevant data submission transmittal(s).