Victoria must allow gas exploration to get the facts

Lakes Oil's Otway Basin permits

Lakes Oil's Otway Basin permits

Calls for Victoria’s moratorium on onshore gas development to be lifted are mounting as local government and industry claim there is simply insufficient knowledge of the state’s resources.

The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas will hear submissions from local councils, traditional landowners and industry this week during a regional public hearing in Hamilton.

Corangamite Shire, located in Victoria’s west, noted community concern over the risks associated with fracking however also said that unfounded fears and a lack of the known resources were hampering the inquiry’s ability to make an accurate conclusion.

In its submission to the inquiry Corangamite chief executive Andrew Mason was one of the few local municipalities to support conventional extraction of gas reserves in the Otway Basin without fracking.

“The moratorium that prohibits exploratory drilling for conventional gas onshore gas should, therefore, be lifted as a matter of urgency,” Mr Andrews wrote.

Mr Andrews said the shire “accepted” the current moratorium on unconventional extraction methods such as fracking due to significant community concern. However the same could not be said for exploration.

“We do not support the moratorium on exploration activities, including drilling, for unconventional gas. It is difficult to make informed decision on the viability or potential economic significance of unconventional gas unless we actually know if the resource exists and the nature of that resource.”

Corangamite Shire’s position on the moratorium and the unconventional gas inquiry comes as Lakes Oil, a gas explorer in Victoria, called for two drilling approvals to prove resource levels in the Otway basin.

Lakes Oil executive chairman Robert Annells said the only way to prove the existence and feasibility of Victoria’s gas reserves was to allow drilling exploration.

“One of the perhaps unintended consequences was that it may have added to some people’s fears that there was something to be worried about,” he said in Lakes Oil’s submission to the inquiry.

“No distinction was made between conventional, proof of concept and unconventional drilling. Nor was it made clear that CSG activities in Victoria were not currently under consideration.”

The company requested that it be granted approval to drill two conventional, vertical proof of concept wells to more accurately ascertain the prospectivity of the Otway Basin with the data obtained used to help the Inquiry make a more informed decision on the State’s prospectivity.

Lakes Oil will front the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas on October 6 alongside the Victorian Auditor General.

A final report from the Inquiry is expected 1 December.

See upcoming public hearings and read submissions to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas HERE.

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