Onshore Energy Security Program

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Geoscience Australia has released Toward Future Energy Discovery summarising the work completed under its Energy Security Program. It is the culmination of five years of offshore and onshore data acquisition and regional studies to encourage further exploration for energy resources. This catalogue of achievements also identifies new opportunities and potential for energy and mineral discovery in under-explored regions.


Geoscience Australia's Onshore Energy Security Program (OESP) was part of a broader package of energy exploration initiatives implemented in late 2006. It complemented Geoscience Australia's offshore exploration for hydrocarbons in offshore frontier regions.

The OESP provided reliable, pre-competitive geoscience data and scientifically based assessments of the potential for onshore energy resources, including oil, gas, hot rocks (geothermal energy), uranium and thorium. The program finished in mid 2011 and was designed to significantly stimulate investment in exploration for onshore energy resources, particularly oil, gas and hot rocks to assist in securing a sustainable domestic energy supply and underpin Australia's energy exports.

Geoscience Australia's Onshore Energy and Minerals Division implemented the OESP in consultation with the State and Northern Territory Geological Surveys and peak minerals and petroleum industry bodies, including the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) and the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC).

Energy resources

In March 2010, Geoscience Australia and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (now the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences) published the Australian Energy Resource Assessment, a comprehensive and integrated scientific and economic assessment of Australia's energy resources. The assessment provides a strategic context for the drivers of the OESP.

OESP drivers

  • Australia's oil production is declining rapidly, highlighting the need for a better understanding of the onshore potential for hydrocarbons.
  • Identification and development of renewable energy resources such as geothermal.
  • Securing a sustainable blend of energy sources into the future.

OESP projects

Thumbnail image for Airborne Electromagnetics ProjectAirborne Electromagnetics Project
Under the Airborne Electromagnetics (AEM) Project, AEM data is being acquired in areas considered to have potential for uranium and thorium mineralisation. The focus of acquisition is directed at geologic architecture indicative of unconformity-related and Palaeochannel-hosted uranium potential.

Thumbnail image for OESP Australian Wide Airborne Geophysical Survey - Magnetics and RadiometricsAustralian Wide Airborne Geophysical Survey - Magnetics and Radiometrics
The Australian Wide Airborne Geophysical Survey - Magnetics and Radiometrics Project concluded in 2008. The processed radiometric data from the project define the Australian Radioelement Datum and are used to adjust existing Commonwealth, State and Territory public domain data in the National Radiometric Database.

Thumbnail image for OESP Geothermal Energy ProjectGeothermal Energy Project
The Geothermal Energy Project aims to increase understanding of the type and location of geothermal energy resources on a national scale to encourage exploration for, and investment in, this type of renewable energy through the provision of pre-competitive geoscience datasets.

Thumbnail image for OESP Gravity ProjectGravity Project
The Gravity Project has acquired gravity data over parts of the Cooper Basin in southwest Queensland. The data is assisting with the assessment of hydrocarbon potential in the region as well as with the identification of granites beneath the basin that have the potential for geothermal energy.

Thumbnail image for OESP National Geochemical Survey of Australia (NGSA) ProjectNational Geochemical Survey of Australia Project
The National Geochemical Survey of Australia Project is aimed at providing a nation-wide, internally consistent and state-of-the-art dataset on the geochemical composition of surface and near-surface materials in Australia. The data is expected to contribute pre-competitive knowledge to help develop more effective exploration for energy and minerals resources.

Thumbnail image for OESP Onshore Energy Geodynamic Framework ProjectOnshore Energy Geodynamic Framework Project
The Onshore Energy Geodynamic Framework Project, which is a partnership between Geoscience Australia and the State and Northern Territory Geological Surveys, acquires, processes and interprets pre-competitive geoscience information under the OESP.

Thumbnail image for OESP Onshore Petroleum ProjectOnshore Petroleum Project
The Onshore Petroleum Project is a staged program of data acquisition under the OESP which involves collecting airborne magnetics and radiometrics, magnetotellurics and, where appropriate, gravity, followed by high-quality deep seismic reflection data.

Thumbnail image for OESP Seismic Acquisition and Processing ProjectSeismic Acquisition and Processing Project
The Seismic Acquisition and Processing Project is managing seismic and magnetotelluric data acquisition and processing components of the OESP. Thirteen deep crustal seismic surveys and 9 magenetotelluric surveys have been conducted since 2007 and the results are being released progressively.

Thumbnail image for OESP Thorium ProjectThorium Project
The Thorium Project was completed in 2008 and established the extent of Australia's known thorium resources and described the geochemical environments in which thorium occurs in Australia.

Thumbnail image for OESP Uranium Systems ProjectUranium Systems Project
The Uranium Systems Project aims to map the distribution of known uranium enrichment and rocks associated with uranium in Australia, develop a new understanding of the processes which control where and how uranium mineral systems develop and assess the potential for undiscovered uranium mineralisation at regional to national scales.

Topic contact: energy@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 27, 2011