WA government to increase share of Browse basin gas fields

Western Australia’s Parliament has approved legislation to increase the government’s share of the Browse basin natural gas fields following reclassification of state offshore boundaries. The Petroleum Titles (Browse basin) Bill 2014 that ratifies the boundary changes was passed on Nov. 25.

The move has followed Geoscience Australia’s (GA) classification of a number of outcrops on the North and South Scott reefs and on the Seringapatam reef 23 km further north, as islands. This makes them Western Australian territory and will mean significant changes to federal offshore coastal waters boundaries.

GA found in its recent survey that the newly discovered outcrops were above the high water mark on the Scott Reef group, which is a series of atoll-like reefs on the edge of the continental shelf in the Timor Sea.

The changes will mean that, should the gas fields in the region be developed, Western Australia will be able to claim an estimated 50-65% share of royalties, while the federal government’s share drops to an estimated 35-50%. The original proportion within the old state water boundaries was 5-15%.

The fields within the new boundaries include the Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-operated Torosa gas-condensate field and the ConocoPhillips-operated Poseidon and Kronos gas-condensate fields.

Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said the Torosa field rezoning could result in an increase in the state’s royalty collection by as much as $2.9 billion (Aus.). He added that it was too early, however, to speculate on the royalty potential of Poseidon and Kronos fields, but that it, too, could be significant.

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