Oil and Gas News

Vic onshore gas exploration back in action

The restart of Victoria’s onshore conventional gas industry has officially commenced, which is set to deliver a boost for south-west Victoria and Gippsland in the coming years.

The restart follows three years of detailed scientific investigations by the Victorian Gas Program.

It found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise Victoria’s environment or our vital agricultural sector.

However, the restart of onshore gas exploration and production does not include coal seam gas or fracking, which are permanently banned in Victoria.

The fracking ban was added to Victoria’s Constitution in March 2021.

In 2012 an administrative moratorium was placed on all onshore gas exploration and development in Victoria.

This was in response to community concerns and meant a temporary hold on onshore gas exploration permits and retention leases, and a suspension on approving any new applications while the moratorium was in place.

In 2017, the Victorian Government passed the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Act 2017.

Under this legislation, fracking and coal seam gas extraction were permanently banned, and the existing administrative moratorium on onshore conventional gas was replaced with a legislative moratorium that halted all exploration and development activities in Victoria until June 30, 2020.

In June 2020, the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Act 2020 was passed by the Victorian Parliament, which allowed for the restart of onshore conventional gas exploration and production from July 1, 2021 along with new regulatory improvements.

APPEA Victorian director Ashley Wells said the original ban on a proven, safe and highly regulated industry didn’t make sense and meant that Victorians have had to rely on other states to solve its gas supply issues.

“Victoria has abundant local onshore resources but for years has rather imported gas from other states. Incredibly, it has even considered importing it from overseas with the planned import terminal,” Wells said.

“Now that the ban is lifted, the industry can resume the exploration and development of local gas resources – and it is a given that we must at all times meet the highest environmental and operating standards at all times.

“The lifting of the moratorium should also give comfort that Victoria’s manufacturing base, and the thousands of local jobs it generates, because all Victorians should be entitled to benefit from viable supplies of locally produced gas for years to come.”