PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 was passed through the Victorian Legislative Council this week, paving the way for a restart of the onshore conventional gas industry.
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 its vital agricultural sector.
Minister for Resources Jaclyn Symes said that production of the estimated resources could generate as much as A$310-million annually for regional economies and create up to 6 400 jobs over the lifespan of these projects.
The work of the Victorian Gas Program gives us the confidence that an orderly restart of the industry can deliver benefits for all Victorians and create jobs, without compromising our clean and green farming reputation,” Symes said.
“Securing gas sources isn’t needed just for Victorian homes and businesses, it’s a key ingredient for manufacturing. That’s why we’re making sure all new gas projects are prioritised for local use.”
The southwest of Victoria and Gippsland are the main regions set to benefit, where geoscience studies have located potentially significant onshore conventional gas resources. The prospective Otway basin already supports a productive onshore gas industry across the border in South Australia.
Industry can begin on-the-ground exploration and development activity again from July 2021, once the best practice regulatory framework is in place. All new gas will be prioritised for local use, Symes said.
A Bill to enshrine the historic ban on fracking and coal seam gas exploration in the Victorian Constitution is also before the Parliament.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) has congratulated the Victorian state government, with CEO Andrew McConville saying the legislation was a step in the right direction to help ensure that Victoria had ongoing secure supplies of natural gas.
“Victoria is a state that relies heavily on gas. Around 80% of Victorian homes are connected to natural gas, and an average household in Victoria uses nearly twice the amount of natural gas as a household in any other state in Australia,” McConville said.
“Thousands of manufacturing jobs in the state also rely on a stable supply of gas. This legislation should give some comfort that Victoria’s manufacturing base, and the local jobs it generates, should continue to have a source of viable supplies of domestically produced gas for years to come.
“It’s also good for jobs in regional local communities, from the local butcher to civil contractors and transport operators.”
McConville said the lifting of the moratorium aligned with Victoria’s Renewable Energy Target and its position on reducing emissions.
Victorians will be able to have their say on these regulations through the Regulatory Impact Statement process, which includes community consultation.
Gas will continue to play a role in supporting Victoria’s transition to a cleaner energy future, in line with the Government’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.