Australia awards 10 offshore exploration permits

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Australia has awarded six companies 10 offshore permits to explore for oil and gas in the waters off the coasts of Western Australia and South Australia in the 2010 petroleum acreage release.

Through the commitments on these leases, nearly $137 million in exploration work will be performed in Australia over the next three years, with more investments warranted should a discovery occur.

US independent Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA) has been awarded WA-453-P in the Barrow Sub-Basin of the Northern Carnarvon Basin offshore Western Australia. Apache has committed to secure new 3D seismic on the area.

US super-major Chevron (NYSE:CVX) has won two blocks for exploration. Both WA-455-P and WA-456-P are located in the Barrow Sub-Basin of the Northern Carnarvon Basin offshore Western Australia. Chevron has committed to obtain new 2D seismic on WA-455-P, as well as drill at least one exploration well. On WA-456-P, Chevron will drill at least two exploration wells.

Winning two blocks, MEO Australia was awarded WA-454-P in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf offshore Western Australia and AC/P53 in the Vulcan Sub-Basin of the Bonaparte Basin offshore Western Australia. On both blocks, MEO has committed to obtaining both 2D and 3D seismic. 

Flow Energy Limited also won two licenses offshore Western Australia. Flow has committed to obtaining 2D and 3D seismic on both WA-457-P and WA-458-P, located in the Dampier Sub-Basin of the Northern Carnarvon Basin. 

In the waters offshore South Australia, Bight Petroleum gained licenses EPP41 and EPP42 spanning the Duntroon and Ceduna Sub-Basins of the Bight Basin. Here, Bight has committed to various geotechnical studies, as well as 2D and 3D seismic.

In a somewhat controversial win, PTTEP has been granted AC/P54 in the Vulcan Sub-Basin of the Bonaparte Basin offshore Western Australia. Here, PTTEP committed to both 2D and 3D seismic, as well as drilling an exploration well on the acreage.

The controversy surrounds the three-month-long Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea offshore Australia in 2009 for which PTTEP was responsible.

"By integrating the lessons of what happened at Montara, we are making sure our oil and gas industry continues to be among the best and safest in the world," said Martin Ferguson, Minister for Resources and Energy in Australia.

“Earlier this week the House of Representatives passed a package of bills that will further strengthen existing arrangements by establishing a single national offshore petroleum regulator consistent with the core recommendation of the Montara Commission of Inquiry."

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