The Victorian Government has identified additional potential underground gas storage sites under its Victorian Gas Program.
Underground gas storage investigations have assessed the potential to use additional depleted underground gas reservoirs around the Iona Gas Plant in Port Campbell for storing gas, to help secure more reliable gas supplies and to mitigate short-term price peaks.
Air and water testing conducted through the program near the Iona and nearby Otway processing plants through the Victorian Gas Program have shown that these facilities do not negatively impact the local environment.
Underground gas storage involves injecting natural gas into porous sandstone reservoirs from where it can be retrieved when demand peaks, and reduce energy prices.
Victorian Minister for Resources, Jaclyn Symes, said, “Expanding underground storage and off-shore production will boost the reliability of gas supply in Victoria and reduce short-term price peaks, particularly during winter.
“Through the Victorian Gas Program, we’ve been getting on with improving access to gas for Victorian consumers when they need it most.”
On Victoria’s coldest days, demand for gas outstrips the amount being processed, so storage reservoirs are integral to ensure consistent and reliable supply.
The Port Campbell facility has been undergoing significant expansion works since 2017. The most recent expansion was completed in 2019, with the opening of the new Iona 7 gas storage, which helped supply gas to around 120,000 additional homes in winter 2019.
The expansion was authorised under Lochard Energy’s existing gas storage licence and was not subject to the onshore gas moratorium as it does not relate to the extraction of new gas.
The expansion project created local jobs in and around Port Campbell, with 50 people employed during construction and an additional 100 specialists engaged. The next wave of investment is currently underway and involves further expansion of the gas plant’s processing capacity.
The Iona Gas Plant employs 60 people, most living within 100km of Port Campbell, and this number could rise in coming years.
The processes used at the Iona Plant do not relate to fraccing or unconventional processes, which are banned in Victoria.