Half a year’s gas supply in Port Campbell area, government says

UPDATE: Resources Minister Tim Pallas with Victoria's lead scientist, Dr Amanda Caples. The pair launched an early report from the Victoria Gas Program, based largely in the south-west. Picture: Supplied
UPDATE: Resources Minister Tim Pallas with Victoria's lead scientist, Dr Amanda Caples. The pair launched an early report from the Victoria Gas Program, based largely in the south-west. Picture: Supplied

There’s estimated to be seven months’ supply of conventional onshore gas in the Port Campbell area, according to an early report from a $42.5 million program to survey Victoria’s gas reserves.

The first progress report from the program was launched by Resources Minister Tim Pallas and the state’s lead scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, on Friday.

Mr Pallas said scientists estimated there were 110 petajoules of gas available near Port Campbell, which would supply about seven months of gas for the state, which uses about 200 to 210 petajoules of gas each year.

He said said more than 20 years’ supply of offshore gas had already been identified in Bass Strait.

A team of 15 was set up in Warrnambool to undertake three years of surveying work ahead of the state’s moratorium on conventional gas exploration being lifted in mid-2020.

Geological Survey of Victoria director Paul McDonald has previously said the Otway Basin – between Port Campbell and the border – was the most prospective part of the state for conventional gas. The Gippsland Basin will also be examined under the Victorian Gas Program.

“Unless and until we’re advised through this process and advised by the science that the extraction can occur, it wont occur,” Mr Pallas said.

“It is so far as we expect from the work done to date a relatively small resource, but one worthwhile looking at.”

Mr Pallas said it was important to ensure agricultural, industry and environmental groups understood what was going on and that the government took its responsibility seriously.

There is currently a commercial drilling operation for offshore gas from an onshore site near Peterborough, which is allowed under the moratorium.

Dr Caples said part of the equation industry used to decide to produce from gas fields was local infrastructure. She said scientists still did not know how much gas was in the region beyond the initial estimates, and the program would continue to provide a clearer picture.

The south-west was a strong onshore gas-producing region in the past.

Fracking, or unconventional gas exploration, has been permanently banned in Victoria.