Government invests in future energy security
14 August 2006
Welcoming the announcement by the Prime Minister of $134 million new program funding into Geoscience Australia, Chief Executive Officer Dr Neil Williams said Geoscience Australia was delighted and proud to have been given the opportunity to play a significant and important role in the Government's new energy security initiative.
"As the Prime Minister has noted, Australia remains relatively unexplored, particularly for petroleum in frontier offshore areas, and encouraging further exploration must be a high priority.
"This is not just in Australia's interests, it will also contribute to global economic welfare as well," said Dr Williams.
"Geoscience Australia already plays a major role in developing and encouraging access to geoscientific and geospatial data in support of energy exploration, and this new program funding over five years will allow us to do so much more in these endeavours.
"With a view to providing new energy opportunities, the investment of an additional $59 million in our agency's onshore activities will allow Geoscience Australia to pioneer the application of innovative, integrated geoscientific research designed to better understand the geological potential of onshore Australia. This will be done through the application of the latest geophysical imaging and mapping technologies.
"For example, the major uranium deposits mined to date in Australia occur within geological terrains of a restricted age range in a variety of settings. It is proposed to acquire and integrate diverse datasets across the terrains within this age range in order to highlight new areas of uranium potential. Similar approaches in other aged terrains will reveal which of those have uranium potential and potentially lead industry to new provinces," said Dr Williams.
"The data gathered will include seismic, airborne electromagnetics and radiometrics. These data will assist in defining the potential for uranium and thorium deposits, and will also highlight the potential for geothermal energy from high heat producing terrains under blankets of sedimentary cover.
"The seismic data will also assist in identifying potential opportunities for exploration of onshore petroleum.
"The Government's injection of over $75 million into Geoscience Australia's offshore activities will allow us to build on the "Big New Oil" program, but at a much accelerated pace.
"There is an urgency to acquire new information and make regional pre-competitive data available for evaluation and acreage uptake because on average it takes six years from discovery to production in an offshore area. This means new teams will work concurrently with the existing program.
"As recognised by the Prime Minister, there remain many prospective but lightly or unexplored areas. Over the next five years, data will be acquired from offshore areas that span up to two million square kilometres, more than three times the area covered by the last program. Also in contrast to the last program, we anticipate up to four times the amount of commercially acquired 2D seismic data to evaluate deep water and shallow water opportunities.
"Access to information in formats used by industry will see innovation in online and near online delivery of seismic and other data.
"A prime key in attracting investment in offshore permits is demonstrating a working petroleum system. Geoscience Australia will continue to apply a range of techniques, from satellite remote sensing to sea-bed coring to provide that evidence.
"These are exciting times, and we are proud as a government agency to have been given the opportunity to contribute significantly to Australia's economic and societal wellbeing," concluded Dr Williams.
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