The restart of Victoria’s onshore conventional gas industry is on track according to the State Government, and industry can expect to start exploration and development activity from 1 July 2021.
The onshore conventional gas restart follows three years of detailed scientific investigations by the Victorian Gas Program, which found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise Victoria’s environment or the state’s vital agricultural sector. These aspects will need oversight initially when onshore conventional gas activities return from 1 July 2021.
Meanwhile, an independent Stakeholder Advisory Panel made up of farmers, environmental groups, industry representatives and local councils, chaired by Lead Scientist Dr Amanda Caples, has recommended project transparency and community engagement to improve through new Petroleum Regulations.
The onshore conventional gas moratorium ended on 16 June 2020 with the passing of the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2020. Since then, Earth Resources Regulation has visited existing sites as part of a program to ensure compliance with existing safeguards and that tenement holders are prepared for the new regulatory regime.
The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions’ Head of Resources, John Krbaleski, said interim regulations will be in place for the 1 July onshore conventional gas restart and the improved Petroleum Regulations 2021 will soon follow.
“[They will] be in place to guide explorers and developers on engaging with the community as a key part of their project plans,” Mr Krbaleski said.
“The extension to the current regulatory provisions ensures there are no risks to the community or the environment.”
The Regulatory Impact Statement consultation period for the Petroleum Regulations 2021 will open soon to enable the community and industry to assess them. The improved provisions of the new regulations will be in place in time for the relevant stages of onshore conventional gas activities.
The Government expects that the south-west of Victoria and Gippsland are the main regions set to benefit from the restart, where geoscience studies have located potentially significant onshore conventional gas resources.