Victoria’s resources regulator is taking action to ensure the safety of gas wells and infrastructure with the restarting of the onshore conventional gas sector.
Since the 2020 announcement of the lifting of the onshore conventional gas moratorium, the regulator has inspected all licenced sites and more than 70 wells to ensure compliance with existing safeguards and assist authority holders to prepare for new industry regulations.
Earth Resources Regulation has issued nine improvement notices to a Gippsland licence holder requiring them to improve maintenance and security at their onshore gas wells and sites.
The nine notices require Petro Tech Pty Ltd to install secure fencing and gates on the properties, conduct service work on well heads, clean the sites of rubbish and weeds, and to remove equipment not associated with onshore conventional gas operations.
The company’s nine wells were inspected by the regulator using specialist gas leak detection equipment. None of the wells were found to be leaking.
The company has until 10 September 2021 to resolve the issues identified in the notices. Earth Resources Regulation will work with the licence holder to ensure that all matters are addressed.
Should the company fail to resolve the matters in the notices it could face penalties of up to $392,000 and the possibility of further action.
The onshore conventional gas restart follows the fracking ban being added to Victoria’s Constitution. Conventional gas extraction does not involve fracking, it is a tried and tested method to access gas deep underground trapped by an impermeable rock layer.
The regulator will continue to hold licence holders accountable for maintaining their existing wells ahead of any new on-ground activities taking place.
Quotes attributable to Earth Resources Regulation Executive Director Anthony Hurst:
“We will step in to ensure companies meet the stringent safety standards for onshore gas equipment and infrastructure.”
“We need onshore gas operators to be accountable and meet their responsibilities, this will underpin the onshore conventional gas sector as it progressively restarts.”