Unconventional gas exploration and production banned in Victoria, Australia

A five-year campaign based on strong community organising successfully stopped the exploration and production of unconventional gas. Quit Coal advocates for renewable energy and decentralisation


Of the three forms of unconventional gas, coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas, Victoria has larger shale and tight gas reserves. After seeing the damaging experiences in Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, Quit Coal campaign saw the production of unconventional gas as a threat to the health and well being of local communities and a threat with regard to climate change.

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Basic Data
NameUnconventional gas exploration and production banned in Victoria, Australia
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGeoscience Australia (GA) estimates that Victoria’s Gippsland Basin contains 19 trillion cubic feet and Otway Basin 8 trillion cubic feet of shale and tight gas reserves. GA explains on its website that the figures derive from a “desktop assessment, using only publicly available data as inputs and following a probabilistic volumetric methodology. Results of the assessment are quoted at confidence levels of 10 per cent, 50 per cent, 90 per cent (P10, P50, P90), and mean”. http://www.ga.gov.au/aera/gas
Project Area (in hectares)4,155,600
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population255,718 Population of Gippsland in the 2011 Census
Start Date23/09/2011
End Date30/08/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesMantle Mining Corporation from Australia - Mantle Mining is involved through exploration licences
ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America
Lakes Oil from Australia - Lakes Oil is involved through exploration licences
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (http://economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/)

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- Quit Coal, https://quitcoal.org.au/

- Lock the Gate, http://www.lockthegate.org.au/

- Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North, https://www.facebook.com/CoalAndCsgFreeMirbooNorth/

- CSG Free Poowong, https://www.facebook.com/CsgFreePoowong/

- Doctors for Environment Australia, https://www.dea.org.au/

- Environmental Justice Australia, https://envirojustice.org.au/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
OtherSeismic activity
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherPotential to divide communities
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNew legislation
Development of AlternativesPermanent ban on unconventional gas exploration and production

Transition to renewable energy

Distributed energy systems
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The Victorian Government announced that it would introduce legislation to permanently ban the exploration and development of unconventional gas in Victoria, and extend the current moratorium on exploration for onshore conventional gas until 30 June 2020.

As stated by Chloe Aldenhoven: “Victoria will become a national leader – the first state to implement a permanent ban on unconventional gas.

It is also one of the most robust policies in the world. Less than 15 international jurisdictions, state or national, have implemented legislation which severely restricts unconventional gas extraction. Even fewer have enacted permanent bans inclusive of all onshore gas exploration and extraction activities.

The Victorian ban is more permanent than Germany’s or Scotland’s, and more allencompassing than the bans in New York, Vermont or France.

However this campaign was not only historic and world-leading in its outcomes. It was also historic for its use of grassroots democracy, the coalitions it developed between conservative farming communities, environmentalists and everyone in between, and the sheer scale of the community movement.” (Aldenhoven 2016, p.10)
Sources and Materials

Native Title Act 1993 (Commonwealth)

Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Victoria)

Environment Effects Act 1978 (Victoria)

Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act 1990 (MRSD Act): Licensing for exploration and production of CSG (Victoria)

Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002 (Victoria)

Petroleum Act 1998: Licensing for the exploration and production of shale and tight gas (Victoria)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Commonwealth)

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth)

Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Victoria)


Aldenhoven, C., (2016), “Victory!: Victoria's unconventional gas ban”, [online], Chain Reaction, No. 128, Nov 2016: pp.10-13. Availability: ISSN: 0312-1372 [accessed 28 February 2017]
[click to view]

Geoscience Australia, “Gas”, [online], Geoscience Australia website, http://www.ga.gov.au/aera/gas, [28 February 2017]
[click to view]

Friends of the Earth, (2014), “The campaign against new coal and gas in Victoria. The story so far.”, [online], Friends of the Earth Melbourne website, http://www.melbournefoe.org.au/coal_and_gas, [accessed 28 February 2017]
[click to view]

Parliament of Victoria, “Research Papers”, [online], Parliament of Victoria website, http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/publications/research-papers/download/36-research-papers/13717-unconventional-gas-paper-final, [accessed 28 February 2017]
[click to view]

Earth Resources, (2016), “Minerals”, [online], Earth Resources website, http://earthresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resources-regulation/licensing-and-approvals/minerals, [accessed 28 February 2017]
[click to view]

Other Documents

Source: Australia's gas resources past

production and remaining

resources (PJ), http://www.ga.gov.au/aera/gas
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAustralian Environmental Justice Project, Lisa de Kleyn, [email protected]
Last update14/03/2017