Questions over gas move

January 30, 2018

Committee for Greater Shepparton chairman Rob Priestly.

The Committee for Greater Shepparton’s chairman says not embracing onshore gas exploration in Victoria just does not stack up.

Rob Priestly has argued the region’s food export industries need access to energy at a cost comparable to Australia’s competitors to stay competitive.

‘‘We have had conventional onshore gas for a long time with no issues.’’

Launching Victoria’s first gas program progress report this month, Treasurer and Resources Minister Tim Pallas said ‘‘following the historic banning of fracking and coal seam gas extraction to protect farming, we have invested in science to produce a sound gas resource estimate and assessment of risks’’.

Mr Pallas said initial analysis showed Victoria’s onshore conventional gas resources were much smaller than its vast offshore resources.

Mr Priestly said if the state government was correct, and there were no economic gas reserves to develop, then there would be no harm in better embracing it.

‘‘If conventional gas can be economically developed for Victorian manufacturers and households, the state government should not stand in the way,’’ he said.

The Victorian Government committed $42.5million to fund a geoscience and environmental research program to produce a more rigorous and auditable assessment of the state’s onshore conventional gas resources and assess possible environmental hazards associated with extraction.

Goulburn Valley Environment Group president John Pettigrew said it was important to weigh up the risks of securing onshore gas, but remained firm on his opposition to fracking.

‘‘I think our water supply, the quality is too valuable.’’

He said a case-by-case analysis would be ideal in assessing options.

Meanwhile, according to new Federal Government figures, Victoria had the highest average wholesale gas price in 2016 and last year — almost double what it was in 2015 when it was the nation’s lowest.

However, it had the lowest residential prices last year.

Relief appears to be on the way for industrial gas users, with the price of gas slowly falling during the past six months,

The federal energy department report released yesterday shows prices in the eastern states are about 20 per cent higher than in 2015.

— with AAP

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