A number of important gas announcements have been made as two important Bills are introduced to Parliament.
One of the Bills will enshrine Victoria’s fracking ban into the state constitution. The other Bill allows for an orderly restart of the onshore conventional gas industry in Victoria. It will also introduce measures aimed at ensuring newly sourced gas within Victoria and state waters will be prioritised for domestic use.
In 2017, the Victorian Gas Program set about determining the potential for new onshore conventional gas discoveries and what would be the risks, benefits and impacts of allowing exploration and development.
The Victorian Gas Program has now delivered a large amount of work to answer these questions. The scientific studies have found there are likely to be onshore conventional gas resources in south-west Victoria and Gippsland.
The three-years of studies has concluded that an onshore conventional gas industry would have no significant impact on farming because of the low risks to the environment or groundwater.
The gas program has shared the science with the community via more than 800 separate engagements.
Following the passage of the Bill in Parliament, the department will start working with industry and other stakeholders to amend the Petroleum Industry Regulations 2011. In line with the findings of the Victorian Gas Program, community engagement elements of onshore conventional gas projects will be strengthened.
The exploration for and development of onshore conventional gas will potentially bring hundreds of jobs to south-west Victoria and Gippsland over the coming decades.
In practical terms, the orderly restart will commence immediately with some specific milestones in place as the industry moves into gear from a standing start.
Onshore conventional gas development could potentially start from 2023–24 if industry makes a gas discovery, considers it commercially feasible to develop and secures the necessary regulatory approvals.
The amount of additional gas potentially flowing from the mid-2020s and over the coming decades, would bring energy security and many benefits, but it is not likely to bring prices down. It is also not likely to boost consumption, meaning no additional emissions will be created once the gas is out of the ground.
Natural gas-powered energy generation will play a role in supporting and accelerating Victoria’s transition to net zero emissions. Greenhouse gas emission modelling found that the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions, should all the gas be found and extracted, would represent 0.1 to 0.3% of Victoria’s net 2017 greenhouse gas emissions.