Oil and gas in Victoria
Victoria is a pioneer in oil and gas production.
In 1924, the first oil field in Australia was discovered at Lake Bunga in the Gippsland Basin.
In 1965, an Esso/BHP joint venture discovered the Barracouta gas field in the Bass Strait.
Since then, billions of dollars have been pumped into developing, producing and processing the crude oil and gas from these and other major discoveries in Bass Strait, off the Gippsland coast.
The energy from our oil and gas has been used to power industry, fuel vehicles and make a range of products in Australia and overseas.
Today, there are 23 offshore platforms and installations in Bass Strait. They include the new Marlin B platform and Kipper subsea wells which feed a network of 600km of underwater pipelines.
More than four billion barrels of crude oil and around eight trillion cubic feet of gas have been produced and the fields are predicted to supply energy for decades to come.
Developing the full potential of these remote resources continues to rely on advances in exploration; infrastructure; project development; transportation; and maintenance.
Victoria's sedimentary basins
Victoria has two major sedimentary basins for oil and gas: the Gippsland and Otway basins. No significant hydrocarbon indications have been identified to date in the Murray Basin.
The Petroleum Atlas of Victoria (2001) gives an overview of the regional geological and geophysical characteristics of the Otway and Gippsland basins.
Geoscience Australia provides information about national petroleum basins.
Gippsland Basin Profile
The Gippsland Basin is an ancient geological depocentre that began forming in the Early Cretaceous period. The basin is located in south-eastern Victoria and represents the eastern most part of the continental breakup system between Australia and Antarctica, starting approximately 130 million years ago. Some of the sedimentary rocks layers that built up over geological time host hydrocarbon accumulations – oil and natural gas.
The Gippsland Basin has both onshore and offshore components. Overall, the basin covers an area of 46,000 km2, with two thirds of the depocentre located offshore. Onshore, the Gippsland Basin stretches from Western Port Bay to Orbost.
The Gippsland Basin is Victoria's most productive petroleum province. Exploration since the 1960s has yielded several world class oil and gas fields as well as numerous small and medium sized fields. One notable example is the Kingfish oil field, which was discovered in 1967 and remains Australia's largest petroleum discovery.
The Gippsland Basin is estimated to contain reserves of 2.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and ethane, as well as 220 million barrels of oil and condensate. To date, all commercial petroleum discoveries made in the Gippsland Basin have been found offshore.
The Gippsland region hosts a wide array of processing facilities and gas pipelines. Gas produced from the Gippsland Basin services Melbourne, regional centres across Victoria as well as the wider east-coast gas market.
For more information read the Oil and Gas Resources of Victoria - Gippsland Basin report.
Otway Basin Profile
The Otway Basin is an ancient geological depocentre that began forming during the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous period. The basin formed in response to the continental breakup event between Australia and Antarctica approximately 145 million years ago. Some of the sedimentary rocks layers that built up over geological time host hydrocarbons – to date only gas has been found.
The Otway Basin has both onshore and offshore components. Collectively, the basin covers approximately 155,000 km2, with about 80% of the basin being located offshore. The basin's onshore component stretches along Australia's southern coast from Geelong in Victoria to Lucindale in South Australia.
Exploration in the Otway Basin since the late 1970s resulted in numerous onshore and offshore gas discoveries. Within the Victorian portion of the Otway Basin, all of the commercially viable gas discoveries to-date have been found offshore and onshore around the Peterborough – Port Campbell region.
Currently, natural gas is produced from fields in the offshore portion of the Otway Basin, and depleted onshore gas fields near Port Campbell are being used for underground gas storage.
Natural gas from the offshore Otway Basin services Melbourne, regional centres across Victoria as well as the wider east-coast gas market.
For more information read the Gas Resources of the Otway Basin in Victoria report.
Page last updated: 20 Apr 2020