Santos Awarded Exploration Permits Offshore Tasmania

Successful bidders for two new petroleum exploration permits for areas off the Tasmanian coast are expected to spend about $47 million on exploration activities over the next six years.

The new permits, covering parts of the Sorell Basin in Commonwealth waters off the west coast of Tasmania, were jointly announced today by Federal Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, and the Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, Paul Lennon.

Permit T/32P was awarded to Santos Limited (50%) and Unocal South Asean Ltd (50%); and permit T/33P was awarded to Santos Limited (80%) and Inpex Alpha Ltd (20%). Both permits will be operated by Santos.

"Award of the permits will lead to a significant advance in exploration of the Sorell Basin. Located off the west coast of Tasmania, this is one of the least explored offshore basins in south-east Australia," Mr. Macfarlane said. The permittees have committed to undertake exploration activities that are appropriate to the frontier nature of the Sorell Basin.

"Any commercial discoveries of petroleum in the permits will play an important role in meeting the future energy needs of nearby markets in south-east Australia," he said. The areas covered by the permits were included in the 2001 release of offshore petroleum exploration areas and the award of the permits follows assessment of bids received in April 2002.