Resources Minister Bryan Green described the news as the beginning of an exciting new chapter in Tasmania's long-term economic development at a Budget Estimates Committee hearing.
"The increase in the number of exploration permits and associated expenditure can only be described as phenomenal.
"In 2002, just four exploration permits were allocated.
"So far this year, 14 permits have been granted – and there is potential for a further five to be granted over the next 12 months.
"Of the 14 permits, seven are off King Island and the West Coast of Tasmania.
"Another new area close to the West Coast is expected to be granted next year, meaning there will be eight potential oil and gas fields of long term strategic importance to Tasmania.
"Industry reports to Mineral Resources Tasmania show the West Coast has the highest potential for future long term development."
Mr. Green said any major discoveries off the West Coast of to the south of King Island would mean oil or gas coming ashore in Tasmania.
"The permits are for five year terms, and over that time, companies will invest more than $313 million in exploration and development work.
"The major work commitments over that period involve a record 14 wells and 16 seismic surveys."
Mr. Green said petroleum (oil and natural gas) accounts for more than 50% of the primary energy use in Australia, and experts agree this would continue for the foreseeable future.
"The existing Yolla and Thylacine production platforms and pipeline infrastructure are recognized as hubs for further exploration and development.
"These fields are also strategically positioned for the steadily growing South East Australian gas markets, with an annual growth rate of between 2 and 4 percent.
"The boom in petroleum exploration and development offshore, coupled with near record levels of investment in mineral exploration, mean that Tasmania is very definitely the place to be.
"This marks a new chapter in Tasmania's economic development, and is testament to the Government's promotion of Tasmania as a place to invest and grow," Mr. Green said.
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