Australia Grants Seven New Offshore Exploration Permits

Australia granted seven new petroleum exploration permits in the gas-rich areas offshore the Northern Territory and Western Australia as part of the second round of its 2011 Exploration Acreage Release, Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said Thursday.

The recipients of the permits include Tangiers Petroleum, Shell Development (Australia), Pathfinder Energy, Repsol Exploration, Liberty Petroleum Corporation, Woodside Energy, Japan Australia LNG, Murphy Australia Oil, Kufpec Australia and Samsung Oil & Gas Australia. The permit holders will spend around $290 million (AUD 277 million) over the next three years exploring the areas.

"There continues to be a strong and growing interest in Australia's prospectivity from both domestic and international companies with 19 bids for seven areas received," Ferguson said in a statement. 

"These new exploration permits raise the potential to discover new oil and gas reserves, which will underpin new projects, provide more jobs and support the Australian economy," Ferguson added. 

Australia is on course to overtake Qatar as the world's top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter by the end of the decade, supplying one-fifth of global LNG supply by 2020. The country is currently the world's fourth largest exporter of LNG and the country accounts for 9 percent of global LNG output.

"Australia has more than half of the world's major LNG projects currently in construction and their completion could see Australia become the world's largest LNG exporter," Ferguson remarked. 

There are currently seven LNG projects being built in Australia which, when completed, will boost the country's total capacity to more than 80 million metric tones per year. Four of the new projects draw from gas fields in Western Australia: Gorgon, Prelude, Wheatstone and Ichthys. The other three are in Queensland: Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG), Gladstone LNG (GLNG) and Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG).



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