Five new oil and gas exploration blocks will be released off the south-west coast in a state government push to shore up long-term gas supply.
The state government announced on Wednesday it was opening up the blocks in the offshore Otway Basin, which stretches from Port Campbell to the South Australian border.
The sites are located up to three nautical miles off the coast and are part of the national 2018 Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release.
The state government said the Geological Survey of Victoria believed that the offshore Otway Basin has the highest potential for new discoveries of gas in Victoria.
The areas being released are near major existing producing gas fields, established infrastructure and underground gas storage, including the Otway Gas Processing Plant.
The state government said an airborne gravity survey of the Otway Basin will also be conducted later this year, covering up to 30,000 square kilometres, with data made available to explorers to help them discover offshore gas.
Minister for Resources Tim Pallas said the five new exploration blocks will go to tender, closing in February next year.
“Many Victorian homes and businesses rely on gas and we support new exploration and development of our vast offshore gas resources to ensure long-term supply,” he said.
While the state government supports offshore gas, it has a moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration until 2020. Local councils have called for that ban to be lifted, while the the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has said the moratorium was pushing up gas prices.
The state government has permanently banned all onshore unconventional gas exploration (fracking).