Australia Offers 35 Offshore Exploration Areas

Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, announced the release of 35 new offshore petroleum exploration areas in Commonwealth waters.

The Australian Government is committed to intensifying the mineral, oil and gas exploration effort and the development of new exploration science and technology," said Ferguson. "The first step of the exploration cycle is the Australian Government's Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release program, forming a key part of the Government's strategy to encourage investment in petroleum exploration."

The 2008 release areas are located across five basins off the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands coastlines.

The release also includes seven Designated Frontier Areas which are eligible for the frontier exploration tax incentive of 150% uplift for exploration expenditure.

Bids for 17 of the new areas close on Oct. 9, 2008, with the remaining 18 areas closing on April 9, 2009. All bids are assessed under the work program bidding system and will be awarded for an initial term of six years.

Exploration is fundamental to the future of the resources sector, and the Government is committed to working with industry and State and Territory Governments to maintain our international competitiveness and ensure the long term growth of this vital Australian industry," said Ferguson.

Government initiatives, such as the provisions of high quality pre-competitive data by Geoscience Australia; tax incentives to encourage exploration in frontier areas; and an improved speculative seismic data acquisition policy; have played their part in boosting Australia's attractiveness to explorers.

Recent years have seen a strong and growing interest in Australia's prospectivity from both domestic and international companies. Geoscience Australia reports a 200% increase in requests for survey data and a 430% increase for well data in preparation for the 2007 Acreage Release. Over 50% of these requests are from international companies, compared with 13% for 2005.