Communique 9 - November 2019

The ninth meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the Victorian Gas Program's (VGP) Onshore Conventional Gas Studies was held in Camperdown on Thursday, 21 November 2019.

The meeting began with an update on the results of the geoscientific studies, including analysis of the data from the rock characterisation studies and the airborne gravity survey. The new chemostratigraphy data has provided greater understanding of the Otway Basin’s prospectivity for onshore conventional gas than was initially anticipated. As a result, it has been decided not to proceed with stratigraphic drilling in the Penola Trough, west of Casterton, as the project is unlikely to provide significant new geological insights at a regional level.

Public workshops were held across the south west in late 2019 to seek feedback on a new resource and land use planning model.

The new 3D geological models for both the Otway and Gippsland basins are also on track to help complete the prospectivity assessments and resource estimates. The data from these models will also be coupled with groundwater impact modelling for both basins.

Panel members received an update on the Resource and Land Use Planning project for the Otway Basin. Seven community workshops were held across the region in October and November 2019. Local residents viewed and provided comment on the model. Developed from over 140 authoritative data sets, the model seeks to identify areas of sensitivity and significance that may need to be considered if the moratorium on exploration or development of onshore conventional gas ends in 2020.  A similar model will be built for the Gippsland Basin and displayed at local community workshops in early 2020.

The Panel was also briefed on the commencement of the VGP’s assessment of the risks, benefits and impacts of future potential onshore conventional gas developments.  A consulting group will work closely with the Stakeholder Advisory Panel to deliver the assessment.  Their work will feature hypothetical gas development scenarios based on the VGP’s geoscience and environmental studies, resource and land use planning models and social baseline research. Panel members provided feedback on the methodology and issues and inputs to be incorporated into the assessment.

Other program updates included:

  • Preliminary findings of the geoscience studies, indicating that some areas of the onshore Otway Basin have the potential to host conventional gas.
  • Preliminary findings of the environmental studies’ modelling and regional groundwater impact scenarios in the Otway Basin, indicating negligible impacts on groundwater as any potential gas resource would be over a kilometre below aquifers.
  • Engagement with over 740 individual stakeholders across south-west Victoria, Melbourne and Gippsland through more than 640 events (i.e. briefings, meetings, forums, emails and telephone calls).
  • Presentations to over 1,390 primary and secondary students in south west Victoria to increase local understanding of geoscience and regional geology.
  • Completion of a social research survey of communities across the Otway and Gippsland basins that examines communities’ perceptions of onshore conventional gas exploration and development. The final report is expected to be ready in early 2020.
  • Findings from the VGP’s policy and regulatory review, including analysis indicating that the onshore petroleum regulatory framework is robust for managing environmental and safety risks.
  • The upcoming release of Progress Report 3, which provides a summary about where the various studies are at, and other VGP technical reports.

The next Stakeholder Advisory Panel meeting is planned for February 2020.

Page last updated: 21 January 2020