Communique 4 - June 2018

The fourth meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the Victorian Gas Program's (VGP) Onshore Conventional Gas Studies was held in Melbourne on Thursday, 7 June 2018.

Dr Amanda Caples with a member of the Professional Women South West Association
I was delighted to talk about the Victorian Gas Program in April to over 70 members from the Business and Professional Women South West Association at Deakin University Warrnambool campus.

The Minister for Resources, Tim Pallas, opened the meeting and reinforced the Panel's key role in understanding and discussing the VGP's scientific findings and the risks, benefits and impacts of any onshore conventional gas development. He highlighted the importance of informed debate and the need for government to understand both the needs of industry and the diversity of views across the community.

The Minister responded to a range of questions from the Panel on regulatory issues such as landowner rights and community benefits, including how best to secure domestic supply from local resources. He also addressed contextual issues such as government's commitment to CO2 emission reduction targets, how we manage the transition from coal to renewable energy technologies and the need for greater transparency in energy distribution and retail markets.

The Minister was followed by Ms Kylie White, Deputy Secretary, Energy, Environment and Climate Change in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Ms White reiterated the Victorian Government's commitment to an affordable, reliable and renewable energy future – with legislated targets and support for transition to zero (net) emissions by 2050. Ms White confirmed that Victoria is on track to achieving the Victorian Renewable Energy Target of 25% by 2020 with renewables producing over 16 per cent of Victoria's electricity in 2017, up from around 11 per cent in 2014. She provided an overview of current initiatives such as the Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy, the Renewable Energy Action Plan, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target Program Reverse Auction and the Victorian Energy Upgrades program.

Ms White responded to questions from Panel Members who sought to understand how government is working with industry to reduce gas demand; clarification of the definition of zero emissions; and government plans to respond to the capacity of different sectors to transition from fossil fuels faster than others.

The Director of the Geological Survey of Victoria (GSV) advised the Panel that the VGP's scientific work is on schedule. The new 3D geological framework model for the Otway Basin is only a few months away The geoscience team will next focus its efforts on filling critical knowledge gaps through a 'stratigraphic' drilling program to provide new rock samples for analysis.

He also advised that the baseline air quality surveying (measuring methane and carbon dioxide concentrations) of the Otway Basin, has commenced and will continue until July 2018.

The panel was also updated on several upcoming VGP announcements, including:

  • a collaborative project between GSV and the Iona Gas Plant, near Port Campbell, to share analytical drill core data that could assist in understanding the potential for storing gas in depleted onshore gas fields in the area, and
  • details of the supplier, timing and flight area of an airborne gravity survey of south west Victoria to better understand the regional, large-scale geology of the Otway Basin, both onshore and offshore.

The geoscience overview was followed by a community engagement update. The reach of the program to date now includes 290 stakeholders across south west Victoria, Melbourne and Gippsland.

GSV has presented its 3D geological models to Councillors across the Otway Basin and briefed Mayor and Chief Executive Officers across Gippsland on the VGP. Other regional networks such as farmer organisations, catchment management authorities, environmental groups, economic development associations and community groups have also been engaged.

The next Stakeholder Advisory Panel meeting will be held in September 2018.

Page last updated: 10 July 2018