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Victorian gas development progress welcome; more please

Yesterday's release of offshore oil and gas exploration blocks by the Victorian Government is a positive step – one of many needed to help secure the State's longer term gas supplies, Australian Industry Group Victorian Head Tim Piper said today.

"Victoria has benefited for decades from the responsible production of gas offshore and the use of gas in industry for heat, power and feedstock to support jobs and growth. Ongoing exploration and development of new sources is important as Victoria's existing gas reserves deplete and the market is transformed by exports out of Queensland. The latest acreage release will help in the long term, though there is a long journey between the start of exploration and gas delivered to industrial customers.

"The State will need more than this helpful step to address our energy woes.

"Victoria may have significant undiscovered onshore conventional gas resources but their development is currently banned. Both sides of politics have sensibly left room to revisit this – the Opposition immediately, the Government in 2020. Scientific work now underway will deliver the geological and environmental data to underpin sound decision making.

"Victoria does have onshore unconventional gas resources – coal seam gas and tight gas – but their development is also banned and neither side of politics is willing to revisit this.

"Imports of liquefied natural gas are also a live option that would increase competition and bolster supply security.

"Victoria needs to take advantage of enough of these offshore, onshore and import options to avert future supply shortages. But the costs of production and transport, and the irreversible opening of the local market to international price pressures, mean that gas prices are unlikely to ever return to the historic low levels that energy users have been used to. Even as we seek new supply on all fronts, greater productivity in the use of gas and substitution to other sources of energy will be essential. Industry is grappling with these realities. All sides of politics need to do likewise," Mr Piper said.

Further comment: Tim Piper – 0411 430 301