Australian oil and gas exploration and production company Beach Energy has started community consultation on the next phase of drilling works in Otway Basin, offshore Victoria.

Beach Energy said that its offshore drilling programme will support the continued supply of locally sourced gas for its customers in Australia.

The company operates Otway Gas Plant, located near Port Campbell, to process the gas produced from nearby offshore reservoirs and sells it to retailers within Australia.

Beach Energy’s Offshore Gas Victoria (OGV) project would include the development of Artisan and La Bella discoveries, exploration drilling and abandonment activity, subject to approvals.

Beach Energy will confirm the project schedule, prospects, and number of wells to be drilled, subject to completion of seabed assessments, joint venture and regulatory approvals and a final investment decision (FID).

Beach Energy CEO Morné Engelbrecht said: “More gas supply is critical to bringing down energy costs and that all gas developed would be sold to retailers within Australia.

“Latest reports from the Australian Energy Market Operator show that there could be critical shortfalls of gas in the East Coast of Australia in the coming years – that is why we are committed to developing more local gas to be supplied to local customers.

“As we see more renewables entering our energy mix, we will need gas to provide firming backup generation, as well as to support our critical industries like agriculture, manufacturing and transportation.”

Beach has signed an agreement to use the semi-submersible drilling rig the Transocean Equinox to carry out the drilling campaign, which would commence in 2025.

The company aims to engage with all the related persons and stakeholders to ensure that the community is informed about its activities and allows everyone to raise questions or concerns.

Engelbrecht added: “The Offshore Gas Victoria project is in its early stages and is yet to reach a Final Investment Decision, however, we intend to be upfront with the local community about our plans and give everyone the opportunity to understand how this project would operate.

“Importantly, Beach has a strong track record of operating safely, and this was demonstrated by our recent offshore drilling campaign in 2021-2022.”

In a separate development, Beach Energy has contracted the Valaris 107 jack-up rig for the drilling of the Kupe South 9 development well, in Taranaki Basin, New Zealand.

The works under the 70-day contract offshore New Zealand were previously expected to begin in the third quarter of this year, from August until December.

The Valaris 107 jack-up rig was working for Eni in Australia until May, when it was moved to an assignment with GB Energy and was engaged for an undisclosed operator until August 2023.