PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The federal government has released 42 areas in Commonwealth waters off Western Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands for its 2020 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage release.
Approximately 100 000 km2 of acreage has been made available for exploration across five basins including Bonaparte, Browse, Northern Carnarvon, Otway and Gippsland basins.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said that the release would help stimulate investment in the gas industry, and was a key component of the government's strategy to promote and encourage investment in petroleum exploration for the benefit of the Australian economy.
“I acknowledge the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the oil and gas industry. The Australian offshore petroleum industry is certainly facing challenging times in the current environment along with low oil and gas prices.
This is compounded by uncertainties caused by domestic and international travel bans, and supply chain constraints associated with Covid-19
“The government strongly believes exploration will play a key role in helping our economy recover from the pandemic,” Pitt said.
“This year’s release is dominated by areas in established oil and gas provinces with existing infrastructure. This is consistent with the drive to ensure major projects have and maintain steady supply into the future.
“Most importantly, I want to make sure Australia remains an attractive destination for exploration investment and that we can continue to deliver long-term energy security for all Australians.”
The Minister said that prior to the onset of the pandemic, there has been an upward trend in exploration, and even during the challenges of the last financial year, significant activities had occurred within the oil and gas sector, including the completion of six exploration seismic surveys, two significant gas discoveries in the Browse and Otway basins, major BP receiving approval for its environmental plan for the Ironbark-1 well near the North West Shelf project, and production licences over the Scarborough and Browse projects submitted, and a production licence over the Barossa project granted.
“I commend the industry for continuing to explore and operate safely during this challenging time. In particular I thank the industry for its hard work to keep its workforce safe during the pandemic.
“The government strongly believes exploration will play a key role in helping our economy recover from the pandemic. That’s why it is important that the 2020 acreage release proceed as planned,” Pitt said.
All areas in the 2020 Acreage release are based on industry nominations and were subject to a comprehensive public consultation process. Areas are available for work-programme bidding.
Bidding will close on June 1, 2021.