Australia Awards New Gas Exploration Permits, Offshore Victoria
Australian E&P companies Beach Energy Ltd. and Bridgeport Energy Ltd. have been awarded new licences for gas exploration off the coast of Victoria.
The new permits are located close to existing offshore gas interests, including Beach Energy’s Halladale-Speculant gas facility and the Enterprise exploration project, and the Iona gas plant operated by Lochard Energy Group Plc. Exploration activities in the region will help boost the local economy and serve domestic demand, the Victoria state government said in a statement issued on July 13th.
Successful exploration could bring up to A$85 million to Victoria’s economy and generate new jobs, while the discovery of new gas will boost the Australian state’s energy supply. Domestic usage will be prioritized, the statement said.
ASX-listed Beach Energy and Bridgeport, a subsidiary of New Hope Corporation Ltd., will be required to adhere to strict environmental controls and work with local communities and authorities for the exploration.
Earlier this year, the Victoria state government moved to lift a moratorium on onshore conventional gas production, citing detailed scientific research conducted as part of the Victorian Gas Program. Companies may start on-the-ground exploration and development activity again from July 1st next year. However, it seeks to solidify a permanent ban on fracking and coal seam exploration in the region.
Oil & gas operations off the southern Australian coast have also been controversial in recent times due to concerns about their environmental impact and resistance from certain political parties. In February, Norwegian oil major Equinor ASA announced that it had abandoned its plans for conducting exploration activities in the Great Australian Bight, stating that the project was “not commercially competitive,” joining companies such as BP Plc, Karoon Energy Ltd. and Chevron Corp. that have previously relinquished permits in the area.