"The Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release program is a key part of the Government's strategy to encourage investment in petroleum exploration and provide for Australia's long term energy security," Mr. Macfarlane said.
The 2007 release areas are located across six basins off the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands and Victoria coastlines.
The release also includes six Designated Frontier Areas which are eligible for the frontier exploration tax incentive of 150 percent uplift for exploration expenditure.
"Increasingly, global petroleum explorers are viewing Australia as a 'big gas' opportunity with low sovereign risk, and Australia has attracted a number of new global explorers over the past two years," Mr. Macfarlane said.
"Government initiatives, such as $135 million in increased funding to Geoscience Australia for pre-competitive data acquisition; tax incentives to encourage exploration in frontier areas; and an improved speculative seismic data acquisition policy; have played their part in boosting Australia's attractiveness to explorers.
"The take-up rate of acreage released each year has risen from just short of 50 percent in 2002-03 to 90 percent for the 2005 release. Borrowings of pre-competitive data from Geoscience Australia, used by explorers to define the best drill locations, have tripled between 2004 and 2006."
Bids for 17 of the new areas close on October 18, 2007, with the remaining 17 areas closing on April 17, 2008. All bids are assessed under the work program bidding system and will be awarded for an initial term of six years.
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