Australia offers 29 offshore exploration blocks in 2011 lease sale

Source: Australian Government

The Australian Government announced the 2011 offshore petroleum exploration acreage release comprising 29 areas across nine basins in Commonwealth waters off the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania and in the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. 

Announcing the release at the annual APPEA conference in Perth, Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP noted that stakeholder nominations underpinned every area in this year's release, with the majority receiving multiple nominations. 

"The release of acreage is a critical step in maintaining Australia's energy security," Minister Ferguson said.
"With a trade deficit in crude oil, LPG and refined products expected to top $30 billion by 2015 finding new reserves is a priority. 

"The acreage release nominations for 2011 follow an extensive consultation process that identifies and considers environmental, fishing, security and other third party considerations. 

"Acreage release - giving companies the right to bid for exploration permits - is critical to the offshore petroleum industry's future – but it is only the first step in a comprehensive process of checks, balances and approvals. 

"The awarding of exploration permits gives companies the exclusive right to apply to search for oil and gas in the permit area. It does not give companies the right to conduct seismic surveys or drill exploration wells without further rigorous approvals. 

"This year's Acreage Release is the largest by square kilometre in over a decade. 

"It covers approximately 200,000 square kilometres, an area roughly three times the size of Tasmania.
"The large areas are mostly located in frontier regions. The “super-sizing” of frontier opportunities acknowledges the challenges of exploring in these areas. 

"And as with previous releases, this year’s is supported by data and analysis from Geoscience Australia.
"The value of this work represents a truly remarkable return on Government investment. For the period June 2006 to June 2011 Government’s investment of $75 million for work under Geoscience Australia’s Offshore Energy Security Program led to $625 million being committed frontier exploration expenditure in acreage released in the frontier areas of the offshore Bremer, Bight, Arafura and Canning Basins, with a proposed secondary program of an additional $1 billion."



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