The Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program - providing independent scientific advice on the potential impacts from shale and tight gas development on water and the environment.

The challenge

Information for decision making

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring all Australians can access reliable and affordable energy. To increase supply of domestic gas resources, $30.4 million has been invested into the Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program.

The Program is assessing the potential impacts of shale and tight gas development on water and the environment. The Program is a four-year initiative due for completion in June 2021.

The Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy. The Department of the Environment and Energy, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology are collaborating to undertake geological and bioregional assessments.

Our response

Developing an evidence base

The Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program will provide independent scientific advice on the potential impacts from shale and tight gas development on water and the environment, comprised of studies in three stages.

Stage 1 of the Program identified and prioritised geological basins with the greatest potential to deliver shale and/or tight gas to the East Coast Gas Market within the next five to ten years. As part of this process, three regions were chosen in consultation with state and territory governments and industry: the Cooper GBA region; the Isa GBA region; and the Beetaloo GBA region (see map below).

Geological and Bioregional Assessment regions

Stage 2 is compiling and analysing available data for the three selected regions to form a baseline and identify gaps to guide collection of additional baseline data where needed. This analysis includes a geological basin assessment of structural and stratigraphic characteristics and an environmental data synthesis. 

Stage 3 will analyse the potential impacts to water resources and matters of environmental significance to inform and support Commonwealth and State management and compliance activities.
The geological and environmental knowledge, data and tools produced by the Program will assist governments, industry, landowners and the community by informing decision-making and enabling the coordinated management of potential impacts.

Additionally, the Program is informed by a series of user panels to articulate user needs in each region. The purpose of the user panels is to help guide the assessment process, communicate findings and share information about the regions and the assessments. These panels encourage inclusive discussions on potential opportunities and risks associated with shale and tight gas development in regional centres.

The results

Tools for planning, assessment and reporting

The products of the Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program will become available from 2018 through 2021 providing an increasing knowledge base for decision-making over time.

The Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program is committed to providing transparent and accessible scientific information regarding the potential impacts on water and the environment of shale and tight gas development.

The Stage 1 report, Rapid Regional Prioritisation, was released in July 2018 and can be accessed via Australian Government Bioregional assessments .

The products from Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program will be made available on the link above.

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