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Onshore conventional gas – geoscience and environmental studies

This program will deliver extensive scientific, technical and environmental on the risks, benefits and impacts of onshore conventional gas. The work will initially focus on the area considered by the Geological Survey of Victoria to be most prospective for conventional gas in the Otway geological basin, between Port Campbell and Warrnambool. The onshore Gippsland geological basin is considered to be less prospective for conventional gas.

The studies will be overseen by the Victoria Government’s Lead Scientist and a Stakeholder Advisory Panel made up of farmers, industry, local government and community members, with input from independent peer reviewers.

The program incorporates the following components:

Rock characterisation studies will be carried out to better understand the properties of the rock layers (e.g. porosity, permeability, organic content) within the study areas.  This will involve analysing geoscience data and rock samples (drill cores). The resultant mapping will form the basis of the prospectivity assessment and resource estimates. image of computer generated 3 dimensional model

Three-dimensional geological models, using previously collected geological data, rock characterisation analysis and drill well data, will be built that defines the stratigraphic (rock layers) and structural framework (e.g. geological faults).  The 3-Dimensional models will provide key insights into where gas may be present and also the nature and location of groundwater.  This knowledge will provide the foundation for addressing questions about the risks, impacts and benefits of onshore conventional gas.

Gas prospectivity and resource estimates will be developed, using the above geoscience components, for the Otway geological basin and the onshore Gippsland geological basin.

Targeted stratigraphic drilling may be carried out in the onshore Otway geological basin to fill gaps in the geological knowledge of the area and to increase certainty of the gas prospectivity and resource estimates.

Environmental studies to identify the key environmental factors relevant to each stage of the life cycle for onshore conventional gas (i.e. exploration, development, production, decommissioning, rehabilitation stages). This work will also identify the environmental vectors and receptors for these gas activities before and after a conventional gas well head, including any key knowledge or data gaps. This information will be used to identify the most relevant types of environmental indicators and data set requirements to monitor the gas activities. 

photo of workers undertaking groundwater analysis

Environmental measurements will be collected to establish the existing baseline conditions, which would provide the benchmark for considering the potential risks and impacts of conventional gas activities.

For example, the environmental studies will involve scientists gathering new data on groundwater chemistry and soil properties, and collating existing data to inform both the studies and stakeholders about past and potential future changes related to the landscape and subsurface in relation to conventional gas activity.  State groundwater monitoring bores will be sampled and regional groundwater models will be built and used to inform a regional impact assessments.