Exxon mulls float of gas venture

Exxon Mobil's unconventional gas play in Victoria could be floated on the ASX, as companies continue to position themselves before a possible opening of Victorian and NSW land to the energy industry.

Exxon Mobil's unconventional gas play in Victoria could be floated on the ASX, as companies continue to position themselves before a possible opening of Victorian and NSW land to the energy industry.

The US petroleum company has formed an early-stage joint venture with unlisted company Ignite Energy in Victoria.

Ignite boss Len Humphreys said the possibility of floating the venture on the ASX had been discussed. "We are a publicly unlisted company, so that means we have quite a significant base of shareholders, and like all shareholders their interest is in their return on their investment," he said.

Exxon paid $12.5 million last year for a 10 per cent stake in the joint venture, and has the right to increase its ownership to 51 per cent if it spends $50 million on exploring the permit, in the Gippsland region east of Melbourne.

Aside from the joint venture, Ignite has a coal play and a biofuels play, and Mr Humphreys said all three could be floated.

Talk of an IPO for the onshore gas play comes after weeks of pressure on governments in Victoria and NSW to embrace the sort of unconventional gas boom that has occurred in Queensland.

The term "unconventional" oil and gas is often used as a proxy for shale fracking but the term can also refer to other types of gas extraction, such as coal seam gas, tight gas and so on.

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