Ban on conventional onshore gas drilling lifting 1 July 2021

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What is happening?

The moratorium on onshore ‘conventional’ gas drilling has been in place across Victoria since 2014. It expires at the end of June 2021, meaning that new exploration and potentially drilling can start after that time. The ban on unconventional gas drilling and fracking remains in place and is now enshrined in the state’s constitution.

Where is the gas?

On July 1st, 2021 the temporary ban (moratorium) on conventional onshore drilling will be lifted.  This will leave areas in Gippsland and South West Victoria exposed to gas exploration.

DrillWatch community resource coming soon

While the Victorian government opening the state to gas companies is bad news for regional communities, for our farmers and for the climate, the good news is that a resource is being put together that will support communities to defend their land, health and future.

How was this decision made?

The Victorian Gas Program (VGP) was a state government initiative that ran for 3 years and delivered 5 reports into onshore and offshore gas resources. It was tasked with assessing the risks, benefits and impacts of onshore gas.

The final report of the VGP identified ‘potentially significant onshore gas’ resources, especially in the Otway Basin. There is already some gas activity, both onshore and offshore in the Basin, both in Victoria and South Australia. The report claims that restarting onshore gas development won’t ‘compromise the state’s groundwater or agriculture’ and will have ‘negligible’ impact on greenhouse gas emissions. 


Criticisms of the findings

It was widely criticised for over stating the likely employment benefits of restarting the onshore gas industry and under stating the likely climate implications of doing so. While a government media release claimed 6,400 jobs could be created, the Victorian Gas Project Progress report claims as few as 57, and at most 204 additional jobs.

Additionally, the government’s own report found that the development would not reduce wholesale gas prices or power prices.

The government’s report also ignores the vast majority of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of the gas, and the many cost-effective opportunities to further reduce gas consumption through electrification.

The report claims there is widespread local acceptance of gas drilling. However, this claim is based on a survey with a misleading positive bias in the design. Nonetheless, it finds only 9% of people think gas development would improve their region.

However, the reports formed the basis of the government’s decision to allow the moratorium on all onshore conventional gas drilling to lapse on June 30, 2021.

History of Community Resistance

After a strong community campaign against onshore gas drilling, which started in 2011, the Victorian government announced a halt on all onshore gas drilling activity in 2014.  The campaign grew because of company plans to ‘frack’ to access unconventional gas in Gippsland. It grew like wildfire from 2012 as more and more communities realised the scale of the industry’s plan for drilling.

Between 2011 and 2016, a total of 75 regional communities declared themselves coal and/or gasfield free.

The campaign became a major issue in the 2018 state election and the Andrews government promised to maintain the moratorium on conventional gas drilling until 2021 and legislate the ban on fracking to enshrine it in the state constitution. It passed the Upper House in March 2021.

Further background on the campaign can be found here.

Now we face a renewed onshore gas industry as the moratorium lifts.


DrillWatch community resource coming soon

While the Victorian government opening the state to gas companies is bad news for regional communities, for our farmers and for the climate, the good news is that a resource is being put together that will support communities to defend their land, health and future.

Coming soon, 'DrillWatch' is a new digital resource for communities resisting new gas developments in Victoria. 

Combining citizen science and community organising, DrillWatch will show current gas developments and allow communities to log information like proposed gas infrastructure, community consultations, and drill rig sightings, and coordinate their resistance to any planned exploration or drilling. 

Community resistance is now the only thing standing between the underground deposits and the gas guzzlers. 

But to keep the gas guzzlers at bay, these communities will need our help.  

1. Register to attend the online launch of DrillWatch on Wednesday August 11.

2. Take the pledge - Say you will join with frontline communities in standing up to the gas industry.

3. Make a donation to support the campaign to stop new gas.