Communique 7 – May 2019

The seventh meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the Victorian Gas Program's (VGP) Onshore Conventional Gas Studies was held in Camperdown on Thursday, 9 May 2019.

Victoria's Lead Scientist and Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel, Dr Amanda Caples, opened the meeting and welcomed newly appointed panel member Jonathan La Nauze, Chief Executive Officer Environment Victoria. Dr Caples also provided details of her activities since the last Panel meeting including attendance at the Australian Domestic Gas Outlook conference and a meeting with Friends of the Earth and Environment Victoria representatives to be briefed on key Victorian Gas Program activities.

The 15 month groundwater sampling field campaign in both the Otway and Gippsland basins is nearly completed
The 15 month groundwater sampling field campaign in both the Otway and Gippsland basins is nearly completed

Key presentations to the Panel included:

1. An update on the progress of the Resource Land Use Planning studies, which will assist in understanding the unique environmental, social and economic features of each prospective resource area (a zone with the geology to potentially host conventional gas) identified by the VGP's studies. The Panel will be involved in a workshop to determine the criteria and value weightings for the land use framework at its next meeting.
2. A briefing on the commencement of a case study regarding the risks, benefits and impacts of the Otway Basin gas production and processing facility in Port Campbell. This work will inform the next phase of work, which is a risk, benefit and impact assessment of hypothetical onshore conventional gas developments, based on the outcomes of the VGP's studies.
3. An update on potential policy and regulatory reform development, including the preliminary identification of practices to improve a social licence to operate, along with an assessment of the adequacy of the current regulations to manage these areas. Initial findings indicate that the regulations are quite robust but with potential areas for improvement, including; community and landholder engagement as well as transparency of industry activities.
4. An update on the stratigraphic drilling project to fill in key geological data gaps in the northern part of the onshore Otway Basin. If the project proceeds, an extensive community engagement program would be undertaken. Members discussed the proposed communications and engagement activities and raised queries about how climate change factors would be acknowledged.

Panel members were also updated on other VGP activities including:

  • The start of the release of technical reports on new data acquired from the geoscientific studies of the Otway Basin.
  • The completion of the data acquisition phase of the airborne gravity survey of the Otway Basin. The data will improve interpretation and visualisation of the deep rocks and structures of the Otway Basin.
  • Deep groundwater bore sampling in the Otway Basin is now finished, and sampling in the Gippsland Basin is nearing completion.
  • Scientific studies investigating the potential to expand Victoria's underground gas storage capacity are progressing well. Several depleted gas fields around Port Campbell are being assessed in terms of their geophysics, geology and commerciality for repurposing to provide underground gas storage.
  • The potential timing for the announcement of preliminary resource areas for the Otway geological basin. Panel members discussed and made recommendations about a communications and engagement approach to support the announcement.
  • To date, over 620 individual stakeholders have been engaged across south-west Victoria, Melbourne and Gippsland through more than 550 events (i.e. briefings, meetings, forums, emails and telephone calls).

The next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for August 2019.

Page last updated: 24 June 2019