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Supporting offshore gas exploration with geoscience

Natural gas has been extracted in waters off Victoria's coast for many decades and is a vital part of the state's energy supply network. Future supply is dependent on new gas discoveries. To stimulate commercial exploration for natural gas resources, the Victorian Government released for tender five new offshore acreage areas in the Otway Basin in May 2018. The areas are in state-controlled waters (3 nautical miles off the coast).

If new gas fields are found to be viable, safe to extract and appropriate to the local context, there are positive implications for jobs and economic development in the region.

Unlike the moratorium on onshore conventional gas, and the permanent ban on onshore unconventional gas, there is no moratorium or ban on offshore exploration or production of natural gas.

To gain the right to explore these areas, companies will have to submit a work program which will be assessed along with financial and technical ability and past performance in Australia and overseas.

Find out more about the tender process.

It is important to note that the acreage release is the beginning of the exploration process.

Exploration typically takes several years and there is no guarantee that it will result in a producing offshore gasfield.

The first stage of commercial exploration includes desktop analysis, modelling and mapping. If seismic surveying is required in future years, a separate approval process will be undertaken including consultation with any potentially impacted industries. If a commercially viable reservoir of gas is discovered in the future and a company wishes to develop it, a separate and rigorous regulatory process would commence.

To support explorers who are assessing the released offshore acreage areas, an airborne gravity survey of a large portion of the Otway Basin, both onshore and offshore, commenced in August 2018. The data collected will be made available to the public and any potential bidders.

Learn more about the airborne gravity survey.