Australia Gets $800 Million Boost to Offshore Exploration

Australian Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, announced a boost to petroleum exploration in Australian waters, with 11 new offshore permits awarded to exploration companies.

A total of 21 bids were received for the 11 areas and these exploration programs are worth more than $800 million.

"The high number of bids and the huge investment companies are prepared to make shows the great interest in Australian offshore petroleum exploration," Mr. Macfarlane said.

"More than $800 million will be invested over the next six years to explore Australian oil and gas opportunities, taking total investment in the 2006 offshore petroleum acreage release to almost $2.2 billion."

The areas are in Commonwealth waters off Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and include four permits in Designated Frontier Areas (DFAs).

"Companies which take on the greater risk of exploring in DFAs are eligible for favourable tax rates because it is in these unexplored frontier areas that we expect to find major new oil or gas reserves," Mr. Macfarlane said.

This year has seen a significant increase in the number of new companies applying to explore in Australian waters.

"It's good to see new players in the market. It demonstrates that the government initiatives to boost exploration are working," Mr. Macfarlane said.

The 11 new permits are:

  • Two permits in the Northern Arafura Basin, off Northern Territory, to Samson International (Australia) Pty Ltd;
  • One permit in the Sorell Basin, off Tasmania, to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd;
  • Five permits in the Bonaparte Basin, off Western Australia, to CNOOC Australia E&P Pty Ltd; Total E&P Australia; Goldsborough Energy; and Reliance Industries Ltd; and
  • Three permits in the Carnarvon Basin, off Western Australia, to Woodside Energy Ltd and Hess Exploration (Carnarvon) Pty Ltd; and Gerald Nelson.

Under the work program bidding system, applicants are required to nominate a guaranteed minimum 'dry hole' exploration program for each of the first 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 awarded for an initial term of six years and may be renewed twice for periods of five years.

Permit NT/P74 (released as NT06-3) in the Northern Arafura Basin has been awarded to Samson International (Australia) Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 1400km 2D seismic and geotechnical studies at an estimated cost of $2.78 million. The secondary work program consists of two exploration wells and 400km2 3D seismic survey at an estimated cost of $33 million. There were no other bids for this permit.

Permit NT/P75 (released as NT06-4) in the Northern Arafura Basin has been awarded to Samson International (Australia) Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 2200km 2D seismic survey and geotechnical studies at an estimated cost of $4.18 million. The secondary work program consists of two wells and 700km2 3D seismic survey at an estimated cost of $35 million. There were no other bids for this permit.

Permit T/48P (released as T06-5) in the Sorell Basin has been awarded to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 700km 2D seismic survey and geotechnical studies at an estimated cost of $2.2 million. The secondary work program consists of one well, geotechnical studies and 300km2 3D seismic survey at an estimated cost of $35.9 million. There were no other bids for this permit.

Permit WA-400-P (released as W06-13) in the Carnarvon Basin has been awarded to Gerald Nelson. Mr Nelson proposed a guaranteed work program of 227km 2D seismic reprocessing; 40km2 3D survey and geological studies at an estimated cost of $1.29 million. The secondary work program consists of two exploration wells and a 40km2 3D seismic survey. There were no other bids for this permit.

Permit WA-401-P (released as W06-10) in the Carnarvon Basin has been awarded to Gerald Nelson. Mr Nelson proposed a guaranteed work program of 104km 2D seismic reprocessing, 45km2 3D seismic survey and geotechnical studies at an estimated cost of $1.4 million. The secondary work program consists of two exploration wells and 45km2 3D seismic survey at an estimated cost of $25 million. There were no other bids for this permit.

Permit WA-402-P (released as W06-2) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to Total E & P Australia. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 1000km 2D seismic reprocessing, geotechnical studies, 754km2 new 3D seismic survey and 3D seismic interpretation at an estimated cost of $13.2 million. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and geotechnical studies at an estimated cost of $59.4 million. There were two other bids for this area.

Permit WA-403-P (released as W06-3) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to Total E & P Australia. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 1984km2 3D seismic survey, 3D seismic interpretation, geotechnical studies and two exploration wells at an estimated cost of $144.4 million. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies at an estimated cost of $7.2 million. There was one other bid for this area.

Permit WA-404-P (released as W06-9) in the Carnarvon Basin has been awarded to Woodside Energy Ltd and Hess Exploration (Carnarvon) Pty Ltd. The companies proposed a guaranteed work program of 2748km2 3D survey, geotechnical studies and nine exploration wells at an estimated cost of $196.2 million. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well at an estimated cost of $21.8 million. There were four other bids for this permit.

Permit WA-405-P (released as W06-5) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded Reliance Industries Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 3200km 2D reprocessing, geotechnical studies, 500km 2D seismic survey and 600km2 3D seismic survey at an estimated cost of $9.6 million. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well at an estimated cost of $20.16 million. There was one other bid for this permit.

Permit WA-406-P (released as W06-1) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to CNOOC Australia E&P Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 400km2 3D seismic survey, geological studies and five exploration wells at an estimated cost of $81.3 million. The secondary work program consists of 400km2 3D seismic survey, geological studies and five exploration wells at an estimated cost of $80.8 million. There were two other bids for this permit.

Permit WA-407-P (released as W06-4) in the Bonaparte Basin has been awarded to Goldsborough Energy. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of geotechnical studies and 1400km 2D seismic survey and 2000km 2D reprocessing at an estimated cost of $2.75 million. The secondary work program consists of seismic interpretation, geotechnical studies and one exploration well at an estimated cost of $15.6 million. There were no other bids for this permit.

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