Australia Awards Offshore Exploration Permits

The outlook for offshore petroleum exploration in Australia continues to brighten with the announcement of three new exploration permits which will result in more than $110 million in exploration activities over the next six years.

The new permits, covering areas in Commonwealth waters offshore of Victoria and Western Australia, were jointly announced by Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane, the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Candy Broad and the Western Australia Minister for State Development, Clive Brown.

The permits have been awarded as follows:

  • Permit Vic/P53 in the Gippsland Basin has been granted to Houston-based Australia Crude Oil Company Incorporated;
  • Permits WA-332-P and WA-333-P in the Browse Basin have been granted to Batavia Oil & Gas Pty Ltd, Hawkestone Oil Pty Ltd, Alpha Oil & Natural Gas Pty Ltd and Goldsborough Energy Pty Ltd.
    • "The Gippsland Basin, Australia's first oil and gas province, has world class infrastructure, and exploration continues to realise this area's full potential. This new permit is surrounded by giant oil and gas fields, and centrally located to recent new exploration initiatives in this Basin," Mr. Macfarlane said.

      The Browse Basin, which is relatively under-explored, has sparked exploration interest thanks to several new discoveries. The new permits located here are sandwiched between the oil discoveries at Cornea and Gwydion and the giant gas/condensate fields at Dinichthys, Gorgonichthys and Titanichthys.

      Combined with the previously announced permits awarded from the 2001 release, plus three permits awarded from re-released acreage, a fresh commitment has been taken by industry to spend over A$640 million exploring offshore Australia in the next six years. "It is pleasing to see that the exploration industry is active in Australia, in a range of prospectivities and water depths. The permit areas awarded over the past six months range from frontier to mature provinces, and will further the Government's strategy to increase our knowledge of Australia’s vast offshore sedimentary basins. This is another step towards securing our future energy supplies," Mr. Macfarlane said.

      Applications for the areas were invited under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 and closed on April 11, 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.