Australia to Offer 29 New Offshore Areas

Twenty-nine new offshore petroleum exploration areas off the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Ashmore and Cartier Islands and South Australia coastlines will be released by the Australian Government.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, said the new acreage release is a key part of the Government's ongoing strategy to encourage more exploration of Australia's vast offshore sedimentary basins.

"We have a vast continental shelf, much of which remains under-explored. There are compelling opportunities for exploration companies of all sizes to look at these new releases which range from mature to frontier basins," said Mr Macfarlane.

The areas being made available for open bidding by the industry include:

2 areas off Northern Territory
24 areas off Western Australia
1 area off the Ashmore and Cartier Islands
2 areas off South Australia

The 2005 release includes five Designated Frontier Areas which are subject to the 150% frontier tax concession incentive announced in last year's budget.

"This generous incentive is designed to re-balance the reward-to-risk scales in the investor's favour in remote un-explored areas - areas where a major new petroleum province could be found," said Mr. Macfarlane.

"The latest release of 29 areas adds to the 161 exploration permits already granted by the Australian Government. Under these permits, petroleum exploration work worth more than $3.4 billion has been committed to," he said.

Bids for 15 of the 29 new areas will close on October 20, 2005 and the remainder on April 20, 2006. All bids will be assessed under the work program bidding system and any subsequent exploration permits will be awarded for an initial term of six years.

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