Australia Awards More Permits from 2002 Licensing Round

Nine new offshore exploration permits, expected to generate almost $193 million in exploration activities over the next six years, have been announced for Commonwealth waters off the coast of Australia.

Acting Federal Resources Minister Joe Hockey jointly announced the release of permits with Western Australia Minister for State Development, Clive Brown, the Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, Paul Lennon and the Northern Territory Minister for Business, Industry and Resource Development, Paul Henderson.

"The resulting exploration work will significantly advance understanding of the petroleum potential of Australia's vast offshore areas, particularly in deepwater frontier areas and hopefully lead to major discoveries," Mr Hockey said.

The permits range from small tracts close to producing oil fields, where there is ready potential to capitalise on new discoveries, through to large, deepwater frontier areas.

NT/P65 is adjacent to the major Sunrise-Troubadour gas and condensate discoveries in the Bonaparte Basin. NT/P66, also in the Bonaparte Basin, is next door to the Blacktip gas discovery, which is now being considered for commercial development.

Permit NT/P65 (originally released as area NT02-1) has been awarded to a consortium comprising National Oil and Gas Pty Ltd, Australian Natural Gas Pty Ltd and Nations Natural Gas Pty Ltd. The consortium proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of geological and geophysical studies, seismic reprocessing and 750km of new 2D seismic surveying at an estimated cost of $1.7m.

The consortium also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and a well at an estimated cost of $15.45m. The permit was awarded on 22 April 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit NT/P66 (originally released as area NT02-4) has been awarded to Nexus Energy Australia NL, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of seismic reprocessing, 2000km of new 2D seismic surveying, 200km2 of new 3D seismic surveying and a well at an estimated cost of $17.55m. The company has also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and a well at an estimated cost of $13.2m. The permit was awarded on 26 June 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

T/34P is in a lightly explored area of the Otway Basin to the south west of the recent Thylacine and Geographe gas discoveries which are also being considered for commercial development. WA-345-P is adjacent to commercial oil and gas fields in the Barrow Sub-Basin.

Permit T/34P (originally released as area T02-1) has been awarded to Woodside Energy Ltd and Origin Energy Resources Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of geological and geophysical studies, 452 km2 of new 3D seismic surveying and a well at an estimated cost of $40.0m. The consortium also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies, 1036 km of 2D seismic surveying and geological and geophysical studies at an estimated cost of $3.7m. The permit was awarded on 17 July 2003. There was one other bid for the area.

Four other permits (WA-341-P to WA-344-P) are adjacent to the proven, but geologically complex Cornea discoveries in the Browse Basin off the north coast of Western Australia.

Permit WA-341-P (originally released as area W01-3) has been awarded to a consortium comprising Batavia Oil & Gas Pty Ltd, Hawkestone Oil Pty Ltd, Alpha Oil & Natural Gas Pty Ltd and Goldsborough Energy Pty Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of geological and geophysical studies, seismic reprocessing and 400km of new 2D seismic surveying at an estimated cost of $1.4m. The consortium also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and 1 well at an estimated cost of $15.45m. The permit was granted on 29 May 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit WA-342-P (originally released as area W01-4) has been awarded to a consortium comprising Batavia Oil & Gas Pty Ltd, Hawkestone Oil Pty Ltd, Alpha Oil & Natural Gas Pty Ltd and Goldsborough Energy Pty Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of geological and geophysical studies, seismic reprocessing and 500km of new 2D seismic surveying at an estimated cost of $1.4m. The consortium also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and a well at an estimated cost of $15.45m. The permit was granted on 29 May 2003. There was one other bid for the area.

Permit WA-343-P (originally released as area W01-2) has been awarded to National Gas Australia Pty Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of geological and geophysical studies and 300km of new 2D seismic surveying at an estimated cost of $1.05m. The company also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and a well at an estimated cost of $18.4m. The permit was granted on 11 June 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit WA-344-P (originally released as area W01-6) has been awarded to National Gas Australia Pty Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of geological and geophysical studies and 200km of new 2D seismic surveying at an estimated cost of $0.7m. The company also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and a well at an estimated cost of $18.3m. The permit was granted on 11 June 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

Permit WA-345-P (originally released as area W02-14) has been awarded to OMV Timor Sea Pty Ltd and OMV Petroleum Pty Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of 50km of new 2D seismic surveying and geological and geophysical studies at an estimated cost of $0.35m. The companies also proposed a secondary program of a well, geological and geophysical studies and 100km of new 2D seismic surveying at an estimated cost of $7.4m. The permit was granted on 11 July 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

WA-346-P is the first permit from the 2002 release round to be awarded over the Exmouth Plateau area of the Carnarvon Basin. Here, explorers will push beyond the relatively well known and commercially proven areas to open the possibility of significantly extending the life of Australia's major hydrocarbon producing basin.

Permit WA-346-P (originally released as area W02-10) has been awarded to BHP Billiton Petroleum (North West Shelf) Pty Ltd, which proposed a guaranteed program for the first three years of seismic data purchase, 120km2 of new 3D seismic surveying and geological and geophysical studies at an estimated cost of $4.04m. The company also proposed a secondary program of geological and geophysical studies and a well at an estimated cost of $17.45m. The permit was granted on 16 July 2003. There were no other bids for the area.

"All the new permits provide huge opportunities for the petroleum industry in its quest for new petroleum resources," said Mr Hockey. "The Australian community will also benefit from any discoveries, as production from existing oil fields is declining".

The new permits, are to be jointly administered with relevant State and Territory Government.
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