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10 March 2000 00/61
PETROLEUM EXPLORATION REPORT RECORDS HIGH LEVEL OF DISCOVERIES
An upsurge in offshore exploration drilling combined with significant oil and gas discoveries at the end of 1999 has suggested future benefits for the Australian petroleum exploration industry, according to a report released by Geoscience Australia. A total of 11 offshore oil and gas fields were discovered during 1999 that, despite international uncertainty at the price of oil, may boost the petroleum industry's overall outlook for 2000.
The Hon. Warren Entsch MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, said the Geoscience Australia report, Australia's Petroleum Exploration and Development Activity lists important new field discoveries made during 1999 and records the level of petroleum exploration activity that occurred throughout the year.
Significant offshore discoveries were made in the Carnarvon Basin off northwest Australia, with gas fields located at Lee, Geryon, Cadell, Orthrus and Narvick, and oil fields identified at Enfield, Sage, Moon, North Gypsy and Coaster. The discovery of a potential oil and gas field also occured at Nasutus. The large gas discoveries at Geryon and Orthrus will contribute to the gas reserves previously located in that area. The Enfield oil discovery will also enhance the prospects of future development in that region of the Carnarvon Basin.
The level of offshore exploration drilling increased significantly in the last quarter of 1999 to a total of 51 wells drilled. This is consistent with the average level of offshore exploration wells drilled over the last 10 years. However the figures show Australia's overall level of exploration drilling had decreased to its lowest level since 1979, due to a drop in onshore exploration drilling.
Mr Entsch welcomed the report's offshore findings as good news for Australia's petroleum industry and said that though onshore drilling activity had decreased in 1999 ongoing discoveries in the Cooper, Eromanga, Otway, Bowen and Perth Basins were possible indications of future activity.
"Despite the lower level of exploration drilling during 1999, there is optimism in the petroleum industry that offshore exploration drilling activity will be maintained throughout 2000 at about current levels. It is not clear yet what effect the current high price of crude oil will have on operator's exploration budgets for this year, however recent industry forecasts suggest offshore exploration should remain at around 54 wells drilled throughout 2000," Mr Entsch said.
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