As of 1 July 2021, the moratorium on onshore conventional gas exploration and production that was put in place by the Victorian Government in 2014 was lifted, but a ban on fracking and coal seam gas exploration has been enshrined in Victoria’s Constitution.
The moratorium on carrying out on-shore petroleum exploration and petroleum production in Victoria, which was imposed in 2017, has been overturned by the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (Vic) (Petroleum Amendment Act) with effect from 1 July 2021. Consequential changes to the Petroleum Industry Regulations 2011 (Vic) (Petroleum Regulations) to deal with the lifting of the moratorium are expected to be released shortly for public consultation. The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (Department) recently confirmed to us that a draft of the revised Petroleum Regulations and an associated Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) will be published on the Victorian Government’s online consultation platform, ‘Engage Victoria’, towards the end of July 2021. Upon release of the draft Petroleum Regulations and RIS, the Department will accept public submissions and will post a number of questions through ‘Engage Victoria’ with respect to the draft Petroleum Regulations and RIS that will be open for responses from the public. The independent stakeholder advisory panel for the ‘Victorian Gas Program’ will also be invited to submit recommendations for changes to the Petroleum Regulations. We note that the existing Petroleum Regulations expired on 24 May 2021 and interim Petroleum Regulations which mirror the current Petroleum Regulations will apply up until the new Petroleum Regulations take effect.
Below is a ‘refresher’ of some of the material changes to the Petroleum Act 1998 (Vic) (Petroleum Act) effected by the Petroleum Amendment Act, and the necessary arrangements that holders of petroleum authorities will need to make in order to comply with the regulatory reforms:
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