Communique 5 - September 2018

Amanda Caples and Corangamite mayors
Dr Amanda Caples meeting with the Mayor of Warrnambool, Cr Robert Anderson, and the Mayor of Corangamite and Stakeholder Advisory Panel member for the Great South Coast Group, Cr Jo Beard

The fifth meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel (SAP) for the Victorian Gas Program's (VGP) Onshore Conventional Gas was held in Camperdown on Thursday, 6 September 2018.

The Panel received their first briefing on the VGP's regulatory reform project, which will develop policy, administrative and legislative reform proposals for Government once the broader scientific findings regarding the potential for onshore conventional gas are known.

The presentation covered the Government's current policy on gas, including the moratorium on onshore conventional gas in place until mid-2020. It detailed the legislative and regulatory controls currently in place through the Victorian Petroleum Act 1998 and Petroleum Regulations 2011 and where there might be opportunities to harmonise regulatory frameworks.

The onshore conventional gas regulatory reform program will include assessing best practice arrangements around gas exploration and production from other jurisdictions (including other Australian states and territories, New Zealand, North America, Canada and Europe) and recommendations from relevant reviews and inquiries. There is also potential for a social baseline assessment to be undertaken as part of building an evidence base of community attitudes to future gas exploration.

Panel members identified that landholders often had little knowledge about their rights and regulatory processes when dealing with gas explorers and developers, suggesting the need for better information products to support landholders. Members also discussed the lengthy time scale of resources projects and how communities would often be concerned about environmental impact and land rehabilitation. It was also suggested the regulatory reform program should look at the Victorian Pipelines Act 2005 to evaluate if the Act's provisions for dealing with landholders were superior to the Petroleum Act 1998.

Panel members recommended that as the Gippsland and Otway Basins were the focus of the VGP, workshops on how gas exploration and production were regulated should be prioritised for communities in those regions.

The Panel was updated on VGP activities including:

  • the airborne gravity survey currently underway in South-West Victoria, including the engagement and community awareness campaign
  • the completion of the rock sampling data collection phase, and the commencement of the analysis of source, seal and reservoir rock measurements
  • progress on building the petroleum systems model, combining all available new and existing data and interpretations to estimate hydrocarbon resources (gas) in the Otway Basin
  • 50% completion of groundwater bore sampling for chemistry in South-West Victoria, providing data that will assist to build a gas field groundwater impact assessment scenario model
  • progress on the regional air quality survey program of the Gippsland and Otway Basins
  • engagement of over 500 individual stakeholders across South-West Victoria, Melbourne and Gippsland through more than 420 events (i.e. briefings, meetings, forums, emails and telephone calls)
  • progress on the geoscientific assessment of underground gas storage potential of depleted reservoirs around Port Campbell.

Geological survey of Victoria south west regional office opening with staff pictured out the front of the building
The launch of the Geological Survey of Victoria's new South West Regional Office
Following the meeting, a number of SAP members attended the official opening of the Geological Survey of Victoria's South West Regional Office at Deakin University Warrnambool. The office is undertaking a range of VGP scientific studies and engaging with the community.

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

Page last updated: 27 September 2018