The Cooper Basin in Queensland and South Australia will be assessed as a potential source of gas as the federal government seeks to boost energy supplies.
The $30.4 million Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program is part of the “Towards a New Energy Future” package in this year’s Budget.
The program will evaluate selected priority areas that are prospective for shale and tight gas, aiming not only to boost supply to the eastern states’ gas market, but also to support strong regulation of unconventional gas projects.
The independent scientific studies will be conducted by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO, supported by the Bureau of Meteorology and managed by the Department of the Environment and Energy.
“Governments, industry and local communities must all be assured that Australia can access our plentiful gas resources in a responsible way,” Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said.
“As we work with states, territories and industry to get more gas to market, it is crucial that our decisions about resources are based on a sound scientific understanding of the region’s geology and environmental values.”
The studies will assess the geology, water quantity and quality of surface and groundwater as well as protected environmental assets to determine the potential impacts and environmental safety of shale and tight gas developments.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said increasing our access to gas supplies will help create Australian jobs and support investment in regional Australia.
“It is vital that we unlock our gas resources and bring more gas to market. By taking steps to unlock our gas reserves, we will help put downward pressure on gas prices,” Minister Canavan said.
“This investment will make use of the best science to map and access our gas supplies to keep Australian industry running.”
APPEA chief executive Dr Malcolm Roberts said the $30.4 million Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program would help put downward pressure on gas prices.
“Australians have had enough of hysterical anti-gas campaigns that are driving up energy costs,” Dr Roberts said.
“They want to see energy prices come down. Finding new sources of supply is essential if we are to provide relief to the families and businesses who are struggling with higher energy costs due to the bans and restrictions on natural gas development imposed by some jurisdictions.
“The Cooper Basin has been one of Australia’s great gas provinces for many decades but production from existing reserves is declining.
“We know there is more gas in the Cooper and the Bioregional Assessment Program will help develop that new supply.”
Initial work on the Cooper Basin studies is underway. The next priority areas for the Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program will be announced in coming months.