Communique 6 - February 2019

The sixth meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the Victorian Gas Program (VGP) Onshore Conventional Gas Studies was held in Melbourne on Thursday, 14 February 2019.

Minister for Resources, Jaclyn Symes, spoke at the beginning of the meeting via teleconference. The Minister's remarks included her appreciation for the work of panel members in bringing diverse perspectives and advice on the issue of onshore conventional gas.

As scientists at the Geological Survey of Victoria gather and model the available data on the Otway Basin, critical gaps in information have emerged. The VGP provides scope for stratigraphic drilling to fill such data gaps and better understand rock layer changes across the basin. The Panel received their first briefing on how the VGP would prepare to undertake this work. Panel members asked questions about the need for undertaking the drilling activity and the benefit it would provide in terms of data and information. Questions were also raised about risks and how they would be mitigated, including engagement with the local community. A decision on whether to proceed with stratigraphic drilling will be taken later this year.

Late in 2019, the onshore areas of the Otway Basin with potential for conventional gas resources will be known. These areas will then be the focus of Resource Land Use Planning studies to understand the unique environmental, social and economic land use features of each area. The Panel was briefed on the methodology and process planned to undertake these assessments.

Amanda Caples and Corangamite mayors
Victorian Gas Program hydrogeologists spent time at Sungold Field Days agriculture event in February, talking to farmers and others about groundwater in south west Victoria.

  • Completion of the airborne gravity survey across 16,000 km2 of south west Victoria, identifying extremely small variations in the earth's gravitational field. The interpreted data will be publicly available later in the year.
  • Continuing geoscientific analysis and interpretation of new and existing rock measurements. The results will be incorporated into the petroleum systems modelling, along with existing data and interpretations, to help provide an estimate of hydrocarbon (gas) resources in the Otway Basin. 
  • Progress of sampling groundwater bores in south-west Victoria. A groundwater sampling campaign will commence in Gippsland in March 2019. The collected data will provide a comprehensive baseline of current groundwater conditions and will improve the understanding of groundwater processes.
  • Completion of the second atmospheric baseline survey for Gippsland and south west Victoria. The results were similar to the first survey round with slight increases of methane concentrations in urban areas, cattle yards and proximity to native vegetation burn off. Raised methane concentration readings were also repeated around the Port Campbell gas storage facility. All concentrations were well below EPA guidelines.
  • Commencement of a desktop review of socio-economic and environmental receptors. These receptors will provide the baseline data to underpin a risk, benefit and impact assessment of a hypothetical onshore conventional gas development, once the detailed findings of the geoscientific and environmental studies are known.
  • Engagement with over 580 individual stakeholders across south-west Victoria, Melbourne and Gippsland through more than 480 events (i.e. briefings, meetings, forums, emails and telephone calls). 
  • Commencement of detailed geoscientific assessment of the depleted gas reservoirs in the Port Campbell area. This work will continue to rank and differentiate the depleted reservoirs regarding their potential storage capabilities.

The next Stakeholder Advisory Panel meeting will be held in May 2019.

Page last updated: 18 March 2019