Australia Awards Seven Exploration Permits

An additional $180 million will be invested in offshore petroleum exploration over the next six years following the announcement of seven new exploration permits by Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane.

Mr. Macfarlane announced the permits as part of the Australian Government's ongoing release of offshore acreage for petroleum exploration.

"In times of growing global demand for oil and gas, these permits represent significant opportunities for exploration companies looking to make the next big petroleum discovery in offshore Australia," he said.

"Today's announcement adds to the 22 exploration permits already granted by the Australian Government in the last 12 months, and brings total committed exploration expenditure to $675 million," he said.

"It's an encouraging investment and a sign that the Government's strategy to promote greater exploration in Australia's vast offshore basins is making an impact."

Today's announcement includes:

  • one permit in the Perth Basin off Western Australia, not far from existing infrastructure and the Perth market. Interest in the area has grown following the Cliff Head oil discovery in the northern part of the Basin;
  • one permit in the Otway Basin off Victoria, close to onshore pipelines, refineries and markets;
  • two permits in the northern Bonaparte Basin off the Northern Territory, close to the giant gas fields of Evans Shoal and Abadi, as well as the soon-to-be-completed LNG plant in Darwin; and
  • three permits in the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, adjacent to petroleum accumulations including some with demonstrated commercial potential.

The Australian Government will administer the new permits jointly with the respective state and territory governments.

Under the work program bidding system for the award of exploration permits in Australia's offshore areas, applicants are required to nominate a guaranteed minimum 'dry hole' exploration program for each of the three years of the permit term and a secondary program for the remaining three years. Each component of the program must be completed in the designated year or earlier. Permits are granted for an initial term of six years.

Permit Vic/P62 (released as V04-2) in the Otway Basin has been awarded to Trident Energy Limited. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of studies, and 420 km of new 2D seismic data acquisition at an estimated cost of $1.77 million. The secondary work program consists of studies and one exploration well at an estimated cost of $8.4 million. The permit was granted on September 13, 2005. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit WA-368-P (released as W04-17) in the offshore Perth Basin has been awarded to Nexus Energy Australia N L. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of studies, acquisition of 300 km2 of new seismic data and one exploration well with an estimated cost of $9.05 million. The secondary work program consists of studies and one exploration well estimated to cost $5.4 million. The permit was granted on August 1, 2005. There were two other bids for the area.

Permit NT/P69 (released as NT04-2) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to ConocoPhillips Australia Exploration Pty Ltd and Santos Offshore Pty Ltd. The companies proposed a guaranteed work program of one exploration well, acquisition of 1 000 km2 of new 3D seismic data, reprocessing of 5 000 km of 2D seismic data and studies, at an estimated cost of $37 million. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and studies at an estimated cost of $23 million. The permit was granted on October 10, 2005. There were two other bids for the area.

Permit NT/P70 (released as NT04-3) in the Northern Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to Australian Oil and Gas Corporation. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 300 km2 of 3D, and 700 km of 2D seismic data acquisition and studies at an estimated cost of $3.85 million. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and studies with an estimated cost of $15.45 million. The permit was granted on October 10, 2005. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit AC/P35 (released as AC/04-2) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to Natural Gas Corporation Pty Ltd, Auralandia N L, and Gascorp Inc. The companies proposed a guaranteed work program of studies, and acquisition of 250 km2 of new seismic data estimated to cost $3.4 million. The secondary work program consists of studies, and one exploration well at an estimated cost of $15.6 million. The permit was granted on 18 October 2005. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit AC/P36 (released as AC/04-3) in the Northern Browse Basin has been awarded to Finder Exploration Pty Ltd. The company has proposed a guaranteed work program of licensing 4064 km2 of 3D multi-client seismic data, and studies at an estimated cost of $13.95 million. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and studies with an estimated cost of $10.2 million. The permit was awarded on October 18, 2005. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit AC/P37 (released as AC/04-4) in the Northern Browse Basin has been awarded to Apache Northwest Pty Ltd. The company has proposed a guaranteed work program of purchasing 415 km2 of 3D multiclient seismic data, one exploration well and studies with an estimated cost of $15 million. The secondary work program consists of acquiring 500 km2 of new 3D seismic data, one exploration well and studies estimated to cost $18.8 million. The permit was awarded on October 18, 2005. There were no other bids for the area.

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