Woodside & Santos Win Australian Offshore Permits

More than $60 million will be invested in petroleum exploration work in Northern and Western Australia with the announcement of three new offshore permits to Australian operators, Santos and Woodside.

Federal Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, announced the award of the permits with Western Australia Minister Clive Brown and Northern Territory Minister Paul Henderson. The new permits, all in Commonwealth waters, will be jointly administered with the respective State and Territory Government.

"The exploration work carried out under these permits over the next six years will greatly advance our understanding of the petroleum potential of the Bonaparte and Carnarvon Basins," Mr. Macfarlane said.

Exploration permit NT/67, off Northern Australia, will be taken up by Santos which proposed a program that will carry out 80 kilometers of 2D seismic surveying, geological and geophysical studies. That will be followed by the drilling of a well.

"This permit has a good address as it is adjacent to the Turtle and Barnett Oil discoveries and is close to the likely pipeline route from the Blacktip gas discovery," Mr Macfarlane said.

Permits WA-347-P and WA 348-P, in the Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia, have been awarded to Woodside Energy Pty Ltd. The company will undertake geological studies, seismic surveying and drill an exploration well, all in deep water where there has been little previous exploration work.

"All three permits provide significant opportunities for the industry in its search for new petroleum resources. Further exploration of these areas is essential to deliver the competitive and reliable energy supplies essential to the future of Australia," he said. This completes the award of permits resulting from the national bidding round that closed on April 10, 2003.