Australia Awards New Exploration Permits Offshore Victoria

Three new exploration permits, granted in waters off Victoria, will see around $115 million invested in offshore exploration activities over the next six years.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane jointly announced the award of the new permits with the Victorian Minister for Energy, Theo Theophanous. The new permits will be jointly administered by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

"These new exploration permits will ensure that the search for new oil and gas discoveries will continue in prospective areas in the Gippsland Basin," Mr Macfarlane said.

"All three permits are located in the Basin which has remaining reserves estimated at 600 million barrels of oil and 5 trillion cubic feet of gas. They are adjacent to giant producing fields and close to existing infrastructure and an expanding gas market," he said.

Permit Vic/P58, in shallow water adjacent to the three-mile zone, has been awarded to Apache Northwest Pty Ltd. The company's work program will start with three years of geological and geophysical studies.

Permit Vic/P59, in shallow to deep water near the Blackback and Kingfish oil fields, has been awarded to Sita Oil Exploration House Inc, an American company. Sita has committed to the purchase of 882 square kilometers of 3D seismic data and three wells at an estimated cost of $70.95 million.

Permit Vic/P60, in shallow to deep water in the basin's south-east, has been awarded to a US-based consortium comprising Holloman Corporation, Australian-Canadian Oil Royalties Ltd, Robert Thorpe and Ely Sakhai. Their work program involves collection of new 3D seismic data over an area of 120 square kilometers.

"There's obviously a market motivation for further exploration of potential petroleum fields and these new permits provide an exciting opportunity for the offshore petroleum industry," said Mr. Macfarlane.

"The proximity of the areas to existing infrastructure and growing markets will be an obvious advantage when it comes to the development of any discoveries," he said.

The Australian and State/NT Governments have now jointly granted 12 new exploration permits for offshore petroleum exploration in Commonwealth waters so far this year.