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15 October 2013
Victoria risks developing policy on the run unless it puts a regulatory framework surrounding the extraction of Coal Seam Gas in Victoria in place, Deakin University's expert on Coal Seam Gas argues.
Associate Professor Samantha Hepburn, an expert on property law, environmental property and natural resource management said Coal Seam Gas – a natural gas found in coal deposits - was being hailed as one of the new sources of unconventional energies, but in Victoria there were few regulations to govern its extraction.
“Deakin University will hold a conference next month (November 6) in Melbourne to bring key players in the debate together to ensure the issues around regulation are given serious attention,” she said.
Associate Professor Hepburn said media debate around CSG had until now focussed around its plentiful supply, the methods of extraction – fracking and the impact this would have on the environment.
“Many of the coal deposits are on farming land and access, drilling rights and compensation also feature in debate, she said.
“There is a moratorium on fracking in this State, but that only applies to Shale Gas, Coal Seam Gas mining could start at any time and there are no regulations in place to make sure some of the safety standards that exist, exist in Victoria.”
Associate Professor Hepburn said it was crucial for Victoria to think about the issues around CSG mining and its regulation.
“Unconventional gas is being seen as a means to fuel America and reduce its reliance on imports,” she said.
“If it can fuel America, it can certainly fuel Australia.”
Associate Professor Hepburn said CSG also had the potential to make a significant contribution to the Victorian economy.
“The primary focus of the Victorian economy is agriculture, which covers approximately 60% of Victoria,” she said.
“Mining however is a relatively small component of the Victorian economy, contributing $5.9 billion (2%) of Victoria’s gross state product in 2009-2010,” she said.
“Coal seam gas mining is likely to have a significant impact on this sector in Victoria.
“Striking a balance between farming and coal seam gas mining will, however, be difficult.
“The intersection between mining and agriculture, and in particular the impact that coal seam gas mining will have upon food security, is a major concern.”
Associate Professor Hepburn said the conference would address the emergent regulatory issues relevant to coal seam gas mining including:
• Comparative regulatory developments in other states, such as New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
• The recently-released draft National Harmonised Regulatory Framework by the Standing Council on Energy and Resources.
• Environmental issues, such as land access, groundwater depletion and hydraulic fracking.
• Social issues, such as ownership rights and community engagement.
Speakers will include:
• Director of The Grattan Institute, Dr Tony Wood
• The Executive Chairman of Lakes Oil, Mr Rob Annells.
• The Director, Centre for Coal Seam Gas, University of Queensland, Dr Andrew Garnett.
• The Executive Director of APPEA, Mr Rick Wilkinson.
• Executive Director of the Minerals Council, Ms Megan Davison
• Manager of Resource Development, Mr Dane Stewart, Ignite Energy
• The Director of the Centre for International Minerals and Petroleum Law, University of Queensland, Dr Tina Hunter.
• Director of Engineering Operations, DMITRE, Mr Mike Malavazos
• Principal Solicitor Victorian Environmental Defenders Office, Ms Felicity Millner
• The Chairman of the Land Management Committee for the Victorian Farmers Federation, Mr Gerald Leach.
•Labor Spokesperson for Energy and Resources, Mr John Lenders
• Associate Professor Samantha Hepburn, Deakin University
• Lecturer, Lidia Xynas, Deakin University
Deakin Media Relations
03 9246 8221/ 0422 005 485
Associate Professor Samantha Hepburn