Restart of onshore conventional gas industry in Victoria

Information session: Victoria's onshore conventional gas industry restart

Learn more about the onshore conventional gas restart and how to have your say on new regulations

Please join an online community information session on Thursday 12 August at 7:00pm to support public understanding of the consultation process.

This session will run through:

  • a brief overview of findings from the Victorian Gas Program
  • new requirements for industry under the proposed regulations
  • the online consultation process for the proposed Petroleum Regulations 2021

There will be an opportunity for participants to submit questions for answering during the session. If you are unable to join the online information session at this time, a recording will be available shortly afterwards.

Please find links below to a series of factsheets which help explain the role of gas in Victoria, and the process of regulatory change:

Register to attend the information session

Have your say on the proposed petroleum regulations

The department has released the proposed Petroleum Regulations 2021 and Regulatory Impact Statement for public consultation via Engage Victoria. The consultation period will run until Friday 3rd September at 5pm, and we welcome your submissions.

Provide your feedback on the proposed petroleum regulations

Victoria’s onshore conventional gas industry has now restarted. The sector is predicted to deliver a jobs boost for south-west Victoria and Gippsland in the coming years.

The 1 July 2021 restart follows three years of detailed scientific investigations by the Victorian Gas Program. It found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise Victoria’s environment or our vital agricultural sector.

The restart of onshore gas exploration and production does not include coal seam gas or fracking, which are permanently banned in Victoria. The fracking ban was added to Victoria’s Constitution in March 2021.

At the forefront of the orderly restart is a new best practice regulatory regime of onshore conventional gas that addresses the findings of the Victorian Gas Program. The focus of the enhancements is stronger provisions for community engagement.

Legislative amendments that underpin the new regime were introduced last year and work is continuing on making new Petroleum Regulations and a Code of Practice for well management. As soon as the new Petroleum Regulations 2021 are in place later this year, explorers and developers will be able to commence formal engagement with communities around their new project plans.

Interim Regulations, an extension of the previous provisions, have been put in place for a short period to bridge the gap between the Petroleum Regulations 2011 sunsetting and the new regulations being made. In Victoria, regulations typically sunset after ten years. Victoria’s onshore Petroleum Regulatory Framework was reviewed by the Victorian Gas Program and found to be robust for managing environmental and safety risks.

The Regulatory Impact Statement consultation period for the new regulations will open soon to enable stakeholders to assess them and provide their views. Feedback will be enabled via the Engage Victoria consultation website.

In preparation for the new regulatory regime, Victoria’s mining regulator, Earth Resources Regulation, has:

  • completed inspections to ensure existing onshore gas sites are compliant with existing safeguards
  • determined the full costs of rehabilitation obligations to ensure that appropriate security is in place
  • reviewed the new work programs proposed by the explorers that set out their plans for the next five years
  • continued to develop guidance materials for industry to support the transition to the new regime.

How did we get here?

In 2012, an administrative moratorium was placed on all onshore gas exploration and development in Victoria. This was in response to community concerns and meant a temporary hold on onshore gas exploration permits and retention leases, and a suspension on approving any new applications while the moratorium was in place.

In 2017, the Victorian Government passed the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Act 2017. Under this legislation, fracking and coal seam gas extraction were permanently banned, and the existing administrative moratorium on onshore conventional gas was replaced with a legislative moratorium that halted all exploration and development activities in Victoria until 30 June 2020.

In June 2020, the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Act 2020 was passed by the Victorian Parliament, which allowed for the restart of onshore conventional gas exploration and production from 1 July 2021 along with new regulatory improvements.

Victorian Gas Program

The 2017 extension of the moratorium provided the time to undertake the Victorian Gas Program – a three-year research program to scientifically understand the potential for new onshore conventional gas discoveries and the risks, benefits and impacts of allowing the industry to continue.

The program’s geoscientific investigations concluded in early 2020. The results indicated that there are likely to be commercially feasible onshore conventional gas resources yet to be discovered in the Otway and Gippsland basins. Regional environmental studies undertaken by the program showed that developing these gas resources would not compromise the state’s groundwater supplies or agricultural sector.

Victoria’s onshore Petroleum Regulatory Framework was also reviewed by the Victorian Gas Program and found to be robust for managing environmental and safety risks; however, the framework could be improved in its provisions for community engagement and industry transparency.

Understand more about the Victorian Gas Program and watch an animation showing the variety of work delivered.

Page last updated: 06 Aug 2021