The Victorian government has approved a new gas extraction project near the Twelve Apostles, the first of its kind in over a decade. 

The decision comes as Victoria aims to transition away from gas reliance, and despite the potential environmental impacts on the iconic tourist site.

Starting from the end of June, Beach Energy will extract gas from an offshore field near Port Campbell. 

The gas will supply Victorian homes and businesses, aligning with forecasts from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), aimed at avoiding anticipated gas shortages.

Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio says that while gas remains a finite resource, it still plays a role in the state's energy transition. 

She acknowledged the diminishing supply, noting that the new project will contribute 10.6 petajoules annually, a fraction of Victoria’s 188 petajoule consumption.

Despite the transition towards renewable energy, with a target of 95 per cent by 2035 and a ban on gas in new constructions since January 2024, the state has granted fifteen gas exploration permits. 

D’Ambrosio did not rule out further approvals but highlighted the rarity of significant new discoveries. 

“We can't just hope on a wish and a prayer that there's going to be some bonanza found any day now, because it doesn't happen that way,” she told reporters.

AEMO has projected a 48 per cent drop in available supply between 2024 and 2028, increasing the risk of outages. 

Steve Davies, chief executive of the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association, has called for a “major course correction” in Victoria's gas policy, citing the continued reliance on gas as coal generators phase out. 

However, environmental groups strongly oppose the project. 

Environment Victoria's advisor Kat Lucas-Healey says the decision jeopardises one of the state's prime tourist attractions for less than a year’s gas supply. 

“Victoria needs to get off expensive, polluting gas and we don't do that by drilling new fields,” Lucas-Healey says. 

Beach Energy’s Enterprise project is situated outside the Twelve Apostles National Park and complies with environmental regulations. 

The company says no gas extraction activities will occur within the marine park located several kilometres from the project site.

Victoria also plans to open a new wind farm in Mortlake and a solar farm in Glenrowan, expected to power 170,000 homes annually.