Download Exploration code of practice: petroleum land access PDF (233 KB PDF)

The Petroleum Land Access Code was developed in recognition that while landholders in NSW own the surface land of their properties, resources that exist below the earth's surface belong to the state of NSW. The production of these resources contributes royalties, economic benefits and energy security for the people of NSW.

This is why the NSW Government has introduced a code containing provisions that exploration titleholders must follow when negotiating land access arrangements for petroleum exploration. The code came into effect on 1 December 2016.

This code has been prepared in consultation with the Land and Water Commissioner and agricultural and petroleum industry stakeholders in its preceding form as a guideline document.

The code provides guidance on the process for negotiating land access arrangements, and for explorer conduct while accessing land for exploration. It has been developed on the premise that all parties will act in a spirit of co-operation and good faith when negotiating access arrangements.

Part B of the code provides best practice guidance to explorers when initiating land access negotiations. Part C sets out mandatory provisions that explorers and landholders must adhere to under section 69DA of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and clause 16A of the Petroleum (Onshore) Regulation 2016.

Agriculture and exploration — a coexistence

Agriculture and exploration are both vital industries in NSW and share many common beliefs and interests.

The successful coexistence of these industries has enormous benefits for the state, particularly in regional areas.

Although landholders may own the land, most resources in NSW are owned by the state.

This means that the royalties and economic benefits from the mining of these resources contribute to the provision of services for the people of NSW.

The purpose of land access arrangements is to ensure the orderly search for minerals, while recognising the rights of landholders to conduct their activities free from unreasonable interference or disturbance.

Both landholders and explorers have clear legal rights regarding access to land for mineral exploration.

In particular, the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 provides specific landholder protections in respect of dwellings, gardens and significant improvements, as well as providing a statutory right to compensation for any 'compensable loss' suffered due to exploration carried out under an exploration licence or assessment lease.

The vast majority of relationships between explorers and landholders are positive. Courtesy, respect and honesty go far in building relationships between explorers and landholders.

All access arrangements should be based on the understanding that explorers are 'visitors' on private land, and an appreciation by landholders of the needs and rights of explorers.