Communique 3 - March 2018

The third meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the Victorian Gas Program's Onshore Conventional Gas Studies was held in Melbourne on Thursday, 8 March 2018.

Geological model of rock outcrops across Victoria
Geological model of rock outcrops across Victoria

The meeting commenced with a presentation from the Geological Survey of Victoria on the current 3D geological models of the Otway and Gippsland basins. These models capture the sub-surface structure of each basin and will ultimately provide a picture of the presence of onshore conventional gas resources.

A significant objective of the Victorian Gas Program is to refine the current models through seismic data analysis together with rock characterisation studies to produce a much more detailed understanding of each basin's geological structure. The Geological Survey of Victoria is currently presenting these 3D geological models to councils in south west Victoria to explain the scientific approach being taken by the Victorian Gas Program.

At the meeting, Panel members discussed the national gas market, the contribution of Victoria's offshore gas resources, and the possible impact of any onshore conventional gas resources identified through the Victorian Gas Program on gas supply and pricing. I acknowledged that the scientific work being undertaken is at a very early stage and highlighted that it will provide the State with the best picture of Victoria's potential for onshore conventional gas resources. This information will assist government to make future evidence-based decisions about any development of onshore conventional gas resources.

The use of gas as an energy source in the context of the state's carbon emission targets and commitments on climate change was also discussed. A consolidated picture of how government is improving energy efficiency in businesses and households to reduce demand, including initiatives to increase supply of renewable energy, is being prepared to inform the Panel.

A major task of the Panel is to eventually provide government with advice on the risks, benefits and impacts of onshore conventional gas. At the meeting, the Panel began to consider the scope of work needed to be undertaken for this study. An initial environmental risk assessment framework was tabled for Panel members to consider. The study's scope will receive independent expert advice from the Scientific Reference Group throughout the Program.

The Director of Geological Survey of Victoria updated the Panel on the progress of the Victorian Gas Program. Key highlights included:

  • Following months of data review and planning, the geoscience team is in the process of selecting rock samples for analysis of source, seal and reservoir rocks (necessary components of a petroleum resource system). Approximately 1400 samples have been selected for analysis, and a further 1700 samples will be analysed to establish mineral and fossil content.
  • The environmental studies team has now sampled 25 groundwater bores for chemistry content and 42 bores for stygofauna (a miniature creature that may indicate the health of groundwater) in south west Victoria. Groundwater bore testing will begin in Gippsland in late April, and air quality surveying in the Otway Basin is expected to begin in April.  This data will help to establish the existing environmental baseline conditions, which would provide a benchmark for considering the potential risks and impacts of conventional gas activities.
  • To support commercial exploration for further discoveries of gas off Victoria's coast an airborne gravity survey of the Otway Basin will be undertaken. The survey will measure minute differences in gravitational force from different rock strata both onshore and offshore. The data collected will provide a data set of varying rock densities across the basin.

Public attending one of the Geological Survey of Victoria's 3D model presentations at Sungold Field Days
Public attending one of the Geological Survey of Victoria's 3D model presentations at Sungold Field Days

  • The community engagement program continues to connect with strategic stakeholders in south west Victoria and Gippsland. A major community engagement initiative was held at Sungold Field Days, one of the largest agricultural shows in south west Victoria, in February 2018. A marquee cinema showing 3D projections of Victoria's geology was set up to show the geology of the Otway Basin and introduce the VGP to farmers, students and community groups.

The next Stakeholder Advisory Panel meeting will be held in June 2018.

Page last updated: 30 May 2018