Australia Awards Three New Exploration Permits

Petroleum companies are set to invest more than $66 million over the next six years in the exploration of south east Australian offshore basins with today's announcement of three new permits.

Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane has announced the permits with Victorian Resources Minister Theo Theophanous and Tasmanian Resources Minister Paul Lennon. The new permits, all in Commonwealth waters, will be jointly administered with the respective State Governments.

"The exploration work done under these permits will significantly improve our understanding of the petroleum potential of south east Australia. There is a good chance of finding petroleum and the already existing infrastructure would help with the early development of any discoveries," said Mr. Macfarlane.

Two of the permits are adjacent to major producing oil and gas fields in Victoria's Gippsland Basin. Previous work has revealed the presence of petroleum, but explorers are yet to make a commercial discovery. There's also untapped potential at deeper levels.

Exploration Permit Vic/P55 has been awarded to a consortium comprising Basin Oil Pty Ltd, Santos Offshore Pty Ltd and Diamond Gas Resources Pty Ltd. The consortium plans to carry out 3D seismic surveys, geological and geophysical studies of a 100 square kilometers.

Exploration Permit Vic/P56 has been awarded to Nexus Energy Australia NL which will carry out three years of seismic reprocessing and studies on top of sinking a well at an estimated cost of $11.55 million.

The third area is in a lightly explored area of the Otway Basin between Victoria and Tasmania. It lies along the continental slope in deep waters to the south west of the commercially important Thylacine and Geographe gas discoveries.

Exploration permit T/35P has been awarded to Santos Offshore Pty Ltd and Unocal South Australia Pty Ltd, which propose to carry out 2D seismic surveying, geological and geophysical studies of almost 1300 kilometers.

"Any discoveries will benefit the Australian community though investment, jobs, energy security and tax revenue that flow from increased local production," Mr. Macfarlane said.