A recent announcement from the Victorian Andrews Labor Government outlines the release of five new oil and gas exploration blocks to help build long-term supply of gas for Victorian homes and businesses.
The blocks are all located in the offshore Otway Basin in State waters (up to 3 nautical miles off the coast) extending from Port Campbell to the South Australian border and are part of the national 2018 Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release.
While we commend the Victorian Government for opening up new areas for exploration and development offshore in an effort to support the growing demand for gas in the state, we can’t help but point out that Victoria has banned drilling and development of onshore oil and gas resources.
As the Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources David Southwick points out:
“Daniel Andrews’ open invitation for industry to drill for gas in the Otway Basin from onshore locations is a complete mockery of his own onshore gas ban.”
“This Premier is so lost on energy policy he will pander to environmental groups by blocking onshore gas until 2020, yet give the green light for industry to drill holes in a Marine National Park from onshore locations.
As detailed in The Age, “the offer includes the right to drill for gas from onshore, even though the Andrews government has banned onshore gas exploration or drilling until mid-2020.”
So now Victoria finds itself in a rather peculiar situation, operators have the right to drill an offshore well from an onshore position – and while it is a practise that industry is familiar with and are highly capable of performing – those same operators can’t access onshore reserves.
Does anyone else sense the hypocrisy at play here? Because we do.
Victoria has a real opportunity to address the growing demand for gas yet the State Government chooses to partially address the issue, still playing into activist hands by maintaining the onshore development ban.
The gas industry started warning of the coming crunch at least seven years ago. But instead of addressing the problem, successive governments in Victoria and NSW have made it worse, buying back licences and stifling exploration in their earnest desire to appease enviro-activists.
Victoria piled bad decisions on top of poor policy, and introduced what is understood to be the world’s only ban on natural gas exploration and development.
But now here we are, that same Government is opening up its offshore resources. Perhaps it’s time for Victoria to address its gas supply and pricing issues by facilitating a wholesome approach and solution and open up its onshore reserves.