Six Offshore Exploration Permits Awarded in W. Australia

Australia is set to benefit from a continuing increase in petroleum exploration activity with today's announcement of six new exploration permits in offshore waters from Western Australia.

Federal Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, jointly announced the release of the permits in Commonwealth waters with the Western Australia Minister for State Development, Clive Brown.

"The six new permits cover three petroleum prospect areas with an expected resulting expenditure of some $84 million over the next six years," said Mr. Macfarlane.

The permits have been awarded as follows:

  • Permit WA-334-P in the Carnarvon Basin, Barrow Sub-basin has been granted to Apache North West Pty Ltd and Tap (Harriet) Pty Ltd.
  • Permit WA-335-P in the Carnarvon Basin, Exmouth Sub-basin has been granted to Apache North West Pty Ltd.
  • Permits WA-336-P in the Perth Basin has been granted to Petroz NL.
  • Permits WA-337-P in the Perth Basin has been granted to Kerr-McGee NW Shelf Australia Energy Pty Ltd;
  • Permit WA-338-P in the Browse Basin has been granted to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd and Korea based SK Corporation;
  • WA-339-P in the Perth Basin has been granted to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd and Kerr-McGee NW Shelf Australia Energy Pty Ltd.

The Browse Basin and Carnarvon Basins are proven petroleum and gas provinces with existing major oil and gas fields and associated infrastructure. However, new discoveries like the neighboring Cornea discovery, suggest there is still much to learn about this area.

The Perth Basin is a relatively under-explored region, which has attracted new exploration interest in the last 12 months, following commercial oil discoveries. It is hoped that new exploration in this region will uncover new oil and gas reserves on the doorstep of Western Australia's largest city.

"Further exploration of these areas is essential to deliver the competitive and reliable energy supplies essential to the future of Australia," said Mr. Macfarlane. The exploration programs proposed in these permit areas will significantly advance our understanding of this strategically important energy resource.

"The granting of these six permits is a welcome indication that Australia continues to fight the world-wide decline in petroleum and gas exploration rates," he said.

Applications for the areas were invited under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 and closed on October 24, 2002.

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.

Petroleum exploration and development activity in these areas will benefit from the application of the profits-related petroleum resource rent tax. Royalty and crude oil excise will not apply.

Carnarvon Basin
Permit WA-334-P (originally released as area W02-13 in the Barrow Sub-Basin) has been awarded to Apache North West Pty Ltd (80% operator) and Tap (Harriet) Pty Ltd (20%), which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 1 well and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $5.45m. The companies also propose a secondary program of 1 well and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $4.1m. The permit was awarded on December 17, 2002. There was one other bid for the area. Permit WA-335-P (originally released as area W02-15 in the Exmouth Sub-Basin) has been awarded to Apache North West Pty Ltd (100% operator), which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 550 square kilometer 3D seismic survey, 1050km 2D seismic survey, 1 well and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $26.5m. The company also proposes a secondary program of 1 well and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $16.0m. The permit was awarded on December 17, 2002. There were no other bids for the area.

Perth Basin (Houtman and Abrolhos Sub Basins)
Permit WA-336-P (originally released as area W01-20) has been awarded to Petroz NL (100% operator), which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 1225km 2D seismic survey, purchase of additional 1364km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $2.4m. The company also proposes a secondary program of 1 well, 500km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $13.85m. The permit was awarded on December 18, 2002. There was one other bid for the area.

Permit WA-337-P (originally released as area W01-26) has been awarded to Kerr-McGee NW Shelf Australia Energy Pty Ltd (100% operator), which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 1100km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $2.3m. The company also proposes a secondary program of 1000km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $2.2m. The permit was awarded on 15 January 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit WA-339-P (originally released as area W01-21) has been awarded to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd (50%) and Kerr-McGee NW Shelf Australia Energy Pty Ltd (50%), which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 1000km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $2.6m. The company also proposes a secondary program of 1000km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $2.6m. The permit was awarded on 15 January 2003. There was one other bid for the area.

Browse Basin
Permit WA-338-P (originally released as area W01-5) has been awarded to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd (71.5% operator) and SK Corporation (28.5%), which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 350km 2D seismic survey and geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $1.55m. The companies also propose a secondary program of 1 well and additional geoscience studies at an estimated cost of $4.4m. The permit was awarded on January 15, 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

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