The head of Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety & Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema) has outlined the ways the offshore regulator is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nopsema chief executive Stuart Smith revealed the regulator was responding to ensure risks to the offshore sector continued to be managed, while it will also prioritise the wellbeing of offshore workers during the global crisis.

Smith noted Nopsema had implemented several initiatives this month to support industry in light of the significant impacts of Covid-19.

“Nopsema has been working with industry and government to deliver regulatory oversight in an agile and responsive way, recognising the many challenges being faced by offshore operators and contractors at this time,” Smith said in an open letter of Tuesday.

“Supporting operators and contractors to maintain critical infrastructure and deliver essential services for national energy supply is vital.”

The letter was published a day after Nopsmea launched a new compliance strategy for regulating the offshore industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

The strategy will see Nopsema focus on providing advice, assistance and support to dutyholders to ensure offshore energy activities can continue to be undertaken in a safe and responsible way.

This will see it give priority to facilities and activities that are providing essential services in the form of contributing to, or maintaining, energy needs in the short to medium term.

Other initiatives being implemented by the regulator include industry surveys to gauge and assess operators’ response to managing risks associated with Covid-19, as well as the introduction of a tailored inspections programme to prioritise issues related to the coronavirus.

“While the impacts of Covid-19 on the community and industry continue to be assessed and managed, Nopsema is ensuring the normal processes of assessment and regulatory oversight are occurring, in accordance with legislative requirements,” Smith said.

“These processes include the ongoing assessment of necessary permissioning documents for offshore activity to occur, and ensuring dutyholders remain compliant with the requirements of Australia’s regulatory regime.”

So far there has only been one confirmed Covid-19 case in Australia’s offshore industry, with a worker who had been on board the semi-submersible Maersk Deliverer, operating for Inpex off Western Australia, testing positive after returning to his home country on 19 March.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Australia had over 4500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 19 deaths.