Moratorium on Onshore Gas Drilling to be Lifted, Fracking to be Permanently Banned

23 March 2020

The National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment Bill 2020 is currently being considered by the Legislative Council having passed the Assembly earlier this month. The proposed amendments will lift the moratorium on conventional gas drilling to allow onshore gas exploration and production in Victoria from July 2021.

These amendments follow a detailed investigation by the Victorian Gas Program which found that onshore conventional gas drilling would not compromise Victoria’s environmental and agricultural credentials.

The Victorian Government has stated that these amendments place landholders in a position ‘to better negotiate access rights and compensation with exploration companies.’

The Government has also stated that it now intends to ‘work with industry and communities to develop rigorous engagement and transparency obligations, as well as improve the regulatory framework.’

Notably, the Victorian Government has introduced this Bill alongside a Bill to amend the Victorian Constitution in order to permanently ban fracking and coal seam gas exploration.

HWL Ebsworth Lawyers has advised previously on petroleum exploration and extraction licenses, including issues relating to gas reserves. If you would like to discuss how the lifting of the moratorium might affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

This article was written by James Lofting, Partner, Alex Gelber, Senior Associate and Rebecca Richards, Law Graduate.

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