The gas industry has been busy down in the Otways. Last week an area of 2,576 sq km off the coast between Port Fairy and Port Campbell was officially green-lit for gas exploration, including seismic testing and exploratory drilling.
Exploration Permit VIC/P79 starts just 5km off the coast of Port Fairy, but then extends out to the southeast, with its eastern boundary out wide off the coast of Peterborough on the Great Ocean Road. It also adjoins a vast new area extending out beyond the continental shelf that was opened up last year to the oil and gas industry during the federal government’s annual acreage release. The same acreage release also opened up an area just five kilometres off the world famous Twelve Apostles.
The VIC/P79 permit was awarded to 3D Oil Limited, an Australian-based oil and gas exploration company that holds interests in exploration permits in the offshore Gippsland and Otway Basins off the Victorian coast.
The permit area sits adjacent to the Otways largest gas fields, Thylacine and Geographe which sit off the coast from Port Campbell. The permit has already been the subject of seismic testing in the past, and off the back of this 3D Oil have identified the Vanguard Prospect, which lies just 5km from the Geographe gas field.
3D Oil are not mucking around, planning to “rapidly exploit existing opportunity in the permit via one exploration well at Vanguard Prospect in Year 3.” They are planning to drill Vanguard by 2025.
The granting of the new permit is the latest development in the supercharging of the offshore gas industry in the Otway Basin. The area now handed over to the gas industry stretches as far west as Robe, South Australia, all the way southeast down past King Island in Bass Strait.
“I want to look out in the ocean and see beauty and life, not gas rigs.” – Belinda Baggs
The news that an area just five kilometres off Port Fairy is now open to gas industry expansion has been met with dismay by locals along the Great Ocean Road.
“The Otway Basin is a wild wonderland respected and cherished by surfers,” says Belinda Baggs, co-founder of Surfers For Climate. “I want to look out in the ocean and see beauty and life, not gas rigs. And I don’t want to feel guilt from knowing this destruction occurred on my watch.”
The continued expansion of the gas industry in the area also flies in the face of both federal and the Victorian state government’s commitments to emissions reduction. “There are decade-long time scales at play before new gas projects reach a production phase,” says Belinda. “Latest scientific research tells us we need reach net zero by 2035 to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change, and any new offshore oil and gas is literally throwing fuel on the fire.”
Join Surfers For Climate in saying no to new offshore oil and gas in the Otways here.