Australia Awards 5 New Offshore Exploration Permits

Almost $70 million of new petroleum exploration activity will be triggered with the announcement of the award of five new offshore exploration permits in Commonwealth waters off Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia.

Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane jointly announced the awards with the Tasmanian Resources Minister, Paul Lennon, South Australian Mineral Resources Development Minister, Paul Holloway and Western Australian State Development Minister, Clive Brown.

The new permits in Commonwealth waters will be jointly administered with state governments.

"Two of the permits are close to recently discovered giant gas accumulations and have potential for significant petroleum discoveries," said Mr. Macfarlane.

In Western Australia's commercially proven Carnarvon Basin, permit WA-350-P was awarded to Woodside Energy Ltd and permit WA-351-P awarded to BHP Billiton Petroleum Pty Ltd.

Permit T/36P was awarded to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd and Unocal South Australia Pty Ltd. It is located in the Sorell Basin off the western coast of Tasmania in a lightly explored area with intriguing signs of oil and large structures capable of trapping petroleum.

Permit EPP 33 in the Otway Basin off South Australia, was awarded to two Kerr-McGee subsidiaries. The permit covers deepwater areas where there has been very little exploration.

Permit WA-349-P was awarded to Chimelle Petroleum Ltd. This permit is in the Perth Basin and is close to significant new oil discoveries, gas pipelines and other infrastructure.

"These permits, which cover a range of prospectivities and water depths, provide significant opportunities for the industry in the search for new petroleum resources. They will help enhance the future energy supplies of Australia," said Mr. Macfarlane.

"The proposed work programs for these new areas are extensive, involving the collection of new seismic data over thousands of kilometers. A number of exploratory wells will also be sunk. They could prove to be areas vital to our energy self-sustainability," he said.

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