Restrictions on onshore gas

Orderly restart of onshore conventional gas development

On 16 June 2020 the Victorian Parliament passed the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act).

The Amendment Act introduces important changes into the Petroleum Act 1998, which will strengthen community safeguards in the regulatory framework and provide for the implementation of an orderly restart of the onshore conventional gas industry from 1 July 2021.

The Amendment Act will:

  • Require increased consultation with the Victorian community
  • Enable consideration of additional social, economic and environmental factors when certain decisions are made under the Act
  • Enable the publication of certain information relating to government decisions and industry activity.

The Amendment Act follows three years of detailed investigation by the Victorian Gas Program that found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise the state's environmental and agricultural credentials.

Future work programs and operations plans will need to comply with the new requirements in the amended Petroleum Act 1998 and Petroleum Regulations 2011.

The Victorian Government has made a commitment that any gas produced from future onshore production licences will need to be prioritised for the domestic market. This will bolster Victoria’s energy security and support local industry and consumers.

Remaking of Petroleum Regulations 2011

Planning work has commenced to remake the Petroleum Regulations 2011, which sunset on 24 May 2021. The new regulations will establish specific details which give effect to the broad objectives established under the amended Petroleum Act 1998 and will also be critical to supporting the new provisions in the Amendment Act. Public consultation on the draft regulations and a Regulatory Impact Statement will be undertaken to support this process.

Onshore conventional gas moratorium extended

The Amendment Act also extends the existing moratorium on petroleum exploration and petroleum production in the onshore areas of Victoria until 30 June 2021.

The extended moratorium does not affect:

  • any requirement or obligation imposed on the holder of a relevant authority by or under this Act or under a condition of the authority during the moratorium period.
  • Petroleum Production Licences Nos. 1, 2, 3, 11 and 13.
  • the authorisation under a production licence of petroleum storage in a reservoir that is carried out in accordance with a storage development plan that applies to the production licence.

Exploration and production for offshore gas in State Waters (3 nautical miles off the coast) can also continue, including drilling from onshore to offshore.

Unconventional gas ban

The Resources Amendment Legislation (Fracking Ban) Act 2017 amended the Petroleum Act 1998 to ban hydraulic fracturing and amends the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 to:

  • permanently ban hydraulic fracturing
  • permanently ban exploration for and mining of coal seam gas.

These bans are being enshrined in the Victorian Constitution under the Constitutional Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2020.

A person who discovers any coal seam gas on any land must report in writing that discovery to the Minister as soon as practicable.

Page last updated: 26 Jun 2020