Acreage Release and Promotion Project
Each year, the Australian Government formally releases new offshore exploration areas during the annual Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference. Geoscience Australia supports these releases by work carried out by the Energy Systems Branch. The work focuses on the evaluation of available open file petroleum geological data to assess the hydrocarbon prospectivity of the release areas. Such evaluations are provided as geological reports complemented by a listing of supportive datasets that can be obtained for the cost of transfer.
In order to attract further investment and/or to attract newcomers to Australia's exploration and production scene, the Resources Advice and Promotion Branch (RAPB) regularly advertises emerging opportunities at several industry meetings throughout the year. In addition to the annual APPEA Conference the RAPB exhibits nationally at the Good Oil Conference in Fremantle, and the Eastern Australasian Basins Symposium (EABS), last held in Brisbane in 2012 and coming up again in September 2015. Internationally, the focus has been on the North American Prospect Expo (NAPE) which attracts over 15 000 delegates every February in Houston, Texas. NAPE is an 'Australia Petroleum' activity, involving participation from State and Territory departments and Australia's presence at the event is now well established within the International Pavilion. RAPB joins staff from the Department of Industry and Science every year after the formal release of new offshore petroleum acreage to disseminate related information to key stakeholders as part of a promotional tour to capital cities in the Asia region.
Achievements to date
The annual Offshore Petroleum Acreage Release provides explorers with new opportunities to invest in Australia's oil and gas sector. Normally around 30 offshore areas are released every year comprising a mix of shallow-water and deep-water areas, areas close to existing hydrocarbon production and known prospectivity as well as underexplored and rank frontier regions.
In past years, the Acreage Release Project was supported by research carried out in offshore frontier areas as part of the offshore component of the Australian Government's Energy Security Initiative. Dedicated teams of geoscientists acquired, interpreted and integrated new data sets to assess the hydrocarbon prospectivity of Australia's offshore frontier regions. The following areas were supported by Geoscience Australia's research:
- Vlaming Sub-basin, offshore Western Australia (2008)
- Ceduna Sub-basin, offshore South Australia (2009)
- Mentelle Basin, offshore Western Australia (2010)
- Abrolhos Sub-basin, offshore Western Australia (2011)
- Houtman Sub-basin, offshore Western Australia (2013)
Of these, the Ceduna, Abrolhos and Houtman sub-basin release areas attracted significant work program bids by the petroleum industry and are now active exploration permits.