Onshore conventional gas industry update

The orderly restart of the onshore conventional gas industry is on track with an expected jobs boost for south-west Victoria and Gippsland in the coming years thanks to the lifting of the moratorium by the Victorian Government.

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) this week updated the industry regarding progress towards the 1 July 2021 restart and the introduction of interim regulations, effectively extending the previous ones for a short period while larger regulatory reform is finalised.

Victoria’s onshore Petroleum Regulatory Framework was reviewed by the Victorian Gas Program and found to be robust for managing environmental and safety risks, which are the aspects that will need oversight initially when onshore conventional gas activities return from 1 July 2021.

An independent Stakeholder Advisory Panel made up of farmers, environment groups, industry representatives and local councils, chaired by Lead Scientist Dr Amanda Caples, recommended improving project transparency and community engagement through new Petroleum Regulations.

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 onshore conventional gas 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.

Since the 2020 announcement of the ending of the onshore conventional gas moratorium, 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 onshore conventional gas restart follows confirmation that the fracking ban has been 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.

Quotes attributable to DJPR’s Head of Resources John Krbaleski:

“It was great to meet with the onshore conventional gas industry this week and provide an update on the work to restart the industry in forty days time.”

“We now have interim regulations in place for the 1 July onshore conventional gas restart, the improved Petroleum Regulations 2021 will soon follow and be in place to guide explorers and developers on engaging with the community as a key part of their project plans.”

“The extension to the current regulatory provisions ensures there are no risks to the community or the environment.”

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