The Victorian government has announced it will introduce legislation overturning an effective ban on onshore gas extraction in the state.
The Brisbane Times reports that the release of legislation allowing an “orderly restart” of onshore exploration and development was a surprise, as the current years-long moratorium on drilling wasn’t due to expire until June 30. The decision paves the way for development from July 1 next year.
Premier Daniel Andrews said supply to households and businesses would be prioritised.
“Reserving Victorian gas for Victorian businesses and Victorian households makes sense and that’s what these arrangements will also deliver,” the premier told reporters.
Another bill would see a ban on fracking and coal seam gas enshrined in the state’s constitution, the Victorian government said. Three years of studies under the Victorian Gas Program – examining “potential for new onshore conventional gas discoveries and what would be the risks, benefits and impacts of allowing exploration and development” – found there was likely to be reserves under south-west Victoria and Gippsland, and there were low risks to the environment or groundwater.
Peak Australian oil and gas body APPEA welcomed the decision.
“Victoria is a state that heavily relies on gas. Around 80 per cent of Victorian homes are connected to natural gas, and an average household in Victoria uses nearly twice the amount of natural gas as a household in any other state in Australia,” said its CEO Andrew McConville in a statement.
“Thousands of manufacturing jobs in the state also rely on a stable supply of gas.”
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