The search is on for oil

18 August 2005

Australia's gas reserves are at an all-time high and continuing to climb steeply, but oil reserves are in decline. What is the Government doing to address this important resource issue?

Geoscience Australia scientist, Dr Marita Bradshaw leads the search for Australia's next oil province and will reveal potential new oil producing areas in a public talk on Sunday 21 August as part of the annual Geoscience Australia Open Day, capping off National Science Week. Dr Bradshaw stressed that one of the key roles for Geoscience Australia was to provide data to attract industry to explore for oil and gas in Australia.

As Group Leader of the organisation's Petroleum, Prospectivity and Promotion program, Marita firmly believes Australia still has a wealth of undiscovered potential just waiting to be found. "The continent and its marine jurisdiction are vastly under explored: only 8,000 wells have been drilled and many offshore basins have never been tested", said Marita. "The big fields in any new petroleum province are usually found first, so Australia's best chance of adding major new oil reserves is to explore in frontier areas."

Marita will also discuss the high-tech methods now used to search for oil.

"Satellite data has some uses but most of the key information is gathered by going to sea. We dredge up samples, use echo sounders to measure water depth and give a picture of the sea floor; and use seismic reflection systems to see the underlying structure of the sediments beneath the sea", said Marita.

"We take samples from the sea bed and once we have analysed this information, we are able to assess whether the area has potential for petroleum resources".

"We are currently looking at shallow water areas like the Arafura Basin in Northern Australia, and the deepwater frontier basins, such as the Bremer Basin, south-west Western Australia" said Marita, who believes that Geoscience Australia's new seismic data acquisition program will shift the exploration frontier into new areas.

In addition to Marita's talk, there will also be talks about mineral exploration, mapping the ocean floor, the Boxing Day tsunami, and what maps will look like in the future. Other activities at Geoscience Australia's free Open Day include gold panning, rock identification, children's activities to make sun catchers and pet rocks and building tours. Opening hours are from 10am - 4pm. Geoscience Australia is located on the corner of Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive, Symonston.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013