Australia’s Victoria Government is planning to search for future offshore gas resources by deploying high-tech aircraft for aerial gravity surveying.

The surveying is part of the A$42.5m ($32.5m) Victorian gas programme, which is aimed at identifying the state’s prospective onshore and offshore gas resources, in addition to options for underground gas storage.

Beginning next year, the government intends to collect airborne gravity data using a specially equipped aircraft that will fly as low as 80m above the sea surface.

Geologists will use the collected data to detect rock structures deep inside the Earth.

Victoria Minister for Resources Tim Pallas said: “The Victorian Gas Programme is using the very best technology and research methods to get the clearest possible picture of the state’s gas resources.

“The government intends to collect airborne gravity data using a specially equipped aircraft that will fly as low as 80m above the sea surface.”

“Instead of attacking Victoria and threatening GST cuts, the Turnbull government should partner with us on this important work.”

Meanwhile, a gravity meter will enable geologists to detect changes in force and rock density.

New geoscientific data obtained from the aerial work is expected to help identify areas off the Victorian coast that are prospective for offshore gas.

Additionally, the government is planning to advance offshore gas exploration in the Otway geological basin by releasing areas for commercial exploration next year.

As part of the plan, a survey of 18,000km² will be undertaken in the Otway Basin.