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Victorian Gas Program

The Victorian Government has allocated $42.5 million over four years in the State Budget 2017/18 to deliver the Victorian Gas Program.

The Victorian Gas Program will run from 2017 to mid-2020. It will deliver a comprehensive program of geoscience and environmental studies and related activities, including resource planning and regulatory improvements for onshore conventional gas, offshore gas and underground gas storage.  

The program will look closely at Victoria’s gas prospectivity and the issues associated with gas exploration and development to inform future decisions by the Victorian Government.

To ensure the program recognises the values and priorities of local communities and landholders, an extensive, proactive and phased community and stakeholder engagement program will also be undertaken. Landholders and local residents will have access to scientific findings as the studies progress and be provided with opportunities to ask questions and get answers along the way. 

The program has three major components. 

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: 

image of computer generated 3 dimensional model

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.

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.

photo of workers undertaking groundwater analysisEnvironmental 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.  

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.

Offshore gas geoscience program

The offshore gas geoscience program will support the commercial exploration for further offshore gas discoveries in Victorian waters. This work will acquire new geoscientific information to identify areas off the Victorian coast, specifically the Otway coast, that are likely to be prospective for offshore gas.

The offshore gas geoscience program will improve the understanding of gas prospectivity under Victorian waters at a sub-basin scale through geophysical surveys (e.g. airborne gravity gradiometry surveying).

Underground gas storage investigations

This program will focus on the onshore Otway geological basin and investigate the potential for further underground gas storage sites.

The program incorporates analysis and modelling of geoscientific information to assess the potential of known subsurface geological structures for underground gas storage, including rock characterisation studies (e.g. porosity, permeability).  The program will also assess the economic potential of these geological formations. 

Supporting program components

Community engagement

A community engagement officer will be based in the Warrnambool area to engage with community groups and members. 

Community information sessions and open days in the areas most prospective for gas will be held on the geoscience and environmental studies and covering other topics of interest, such as gas production methods and regulatory controls.

Frequent briefings and information will be provided to councils, community leaders and community groups, with the aim to keep them up-to-date on the progress of the studies. 

Information will also be published on this website.

Resource planning

A detailed landscape inventory will be prepared to identify key natural resource, cultural, environmental and existing land use values in the areas prospective for gas, including gaining a clear understanding of community views.

Resource planning activities conducted in parallel with the geoscientific and environmental studies will ensure that any future gas exploration and development only takes place where it is appropriate to the local context.

Regulatory improvements

A comprehensive regulatory review will be undertaken in parallel with the geoscience studies, community engagement and resource planning activities.  A key focus will be to identify national and international best practice in gas regulation, with the aim to inform government decisions in the future. 

All study results will be made publicly available.

Enquiries

Email: VGP@ecodev.vic.gov.au