In May 2017, the Australian Government announced a new program of geological and bioregional assessments to be conducted in three onshore areas that are underexplored but prospective for shale and tight gas.
This work extends the current program of bioregional assessments to include studies of the potential impacts from shale and tight gas projects on the environment. The new work will provide independent scientific advice to governments, landowners and the community, business and investors.
The assessments will highlight the areas that are prospective for shale and tight gas and outline any potential environmental impacts of their extraction, along with considering appropriate mitigation and management approaches. This transparent, science-based approach aims to assist in building understanding of shale and tight gas developments.
The program will produce geological and environmental data and tools that will assist regulators with planning, assessment and reporting. It will provide regulators and industry with a common information base to help inform decision-making and enhance the coordinated management of cumulative impacts.
The program comprises three stages:
- Stage 1 will narrow the focus of the assessments and select three regions for detailed study. This step will be done in consultation with State governments and industry.
- Stage 2 will synthesise available data for the three selected regions and identify gaps to guide collection of additional baseline data where needed.
- Stage 3 will analyse the potential impacts to basin geology, water resources and other Commonwealth and State matters of environmental significance to enable effective monitoring, mitigation and management measures.
Geoscience Australia and CSIRO are conducting the assessments. The program is managed by the Department of the Environment and Energy and supported by the Bureau of Meteorology.