Petroleum Law

Subject LAWS70041 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the scheduled subject start date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Petroleum resources have immense strategic and economic value. Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in Australia control exploration for, and production of, these resources, although they engage private enterprise to perform these tasks. The complex legal relationship between governments and private enterprise in petroleum exploration and production provides the central theme of this subject. Australia’s federal system of government adds to the complexity of this relationship. This subject examines the nature, occurrence and extraction of petroleum resources, and considers the legal consequences of the fact that most of these resources occur naturally as fluids. It then directs attention to the statutory regimes that govern petroleum exploration and production in various Australian jurisdictions, assessing their legal attributes and efficacy in the wider context of foreign petroleum regimes.

Principal topics include:

  • Meaning of ‘petroleum’
  • Property in petroleum
  • Australian petroleum regimes
  • Statutory titles
  • Government royalties
  • Dealings and registration
  • Overriding royalties
  • Production controls
  • Unit development
  • Underground storage of petroleum
  • Greenhouse gas storage
  • Coal seam gas
  • Access to land
  • Seabed boundary delimitation
  • Case Study 1: Petroleum Act 1998 (Vic)
  • Case Study 2: Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 (SA)
  • Case Study 3: Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cth)
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles relating to petroleum exploration, production and storage in Australia, including recent developments in this field of law and practice, and the capacity to resolve legal problems relating to these activities
  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of the statutory regimes governing petroleum exploration and production in Australia
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in this field
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of these legal regimes
  • Have an advanced understanding of legal issues that may arise from competition and conflicts in the management of multiple land-based resources
  • Have a detailed understanding of the legal relationships between governments (Commonwealth, State and Territory) and private parties engaged in petroleum exploration, production and storage
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating the effective management of petroleum resources
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse legal issues arising in the management of petroleum resources
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding legal issues arising in the management of petroleum resources
  • Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of petroleum law.
  • Take-home examination (50%) (13-16 March)
  • 5,000 word research paper (50%) (11 May) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator
Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Construction Law
Graduate Diploma in Energy and Resources Law
Graduate Diploma in Environmental Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Commercial Law
Master of Construction Law
Master of Energy and Resources Law
Master of Environmental Law
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Tailored Specialisation

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