Onshore Energy Systems

Australia hosts numerous producing hydrocarbon provinces, most of which are located offshore. The Cooper-Eromanga region has historically operated as a major onshore oil and gas producer, delivering hydrocarbons to markets in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. Recent escalation in gas production in the southern Queensland region has enabled liquid natural gas facilities to be established for international export. Although many new significant gas discoveries have been made in recent years, it is widely acknowledged that Australia's oil production has been in steady decline since the late 1990s, and that increasing amounts of liquid hydrocarbons are needed to satisfy the continued demand.

Geoscience Australia is undertaking regional scale research in the states and Northern Territory to improve our understanding of conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon systems. Exploration in onshore Australian basins has recently experienced a revival, largely due to the successes associated with unconventional resources in North America. Our current knowledge of Australian hydrocarbon systems, however, is poorly understood and direct comparisons with overseas analogues have proven not to be representative with respect to known Australian resources. The data availability in individual basins varies greatly, with large areas within the basins containing poor to no data.

The Onshore Energy Systems program is addressing these issues by undertaking a range of activities to increase our geological knowledge of onshore hydrocarbon systems. The Onshore Basin Inventory project aims to provide a concise inventory of the geology, petroleum systems, exploration status and data coverage for onshore Australian basins. In addition a series of basin specific prospectivity studies are underway, which include targeted pre-competitive data acquisition and accompanying research to assist the exploration industry to evaluate Australian onshore basins for their hydrocarbon potential.

In addition to hydrocarbon research the program is also undertaking research into the potential to safely store carbon dioxide in geological formations. The Australian Government, as part of the Clean Energy Initiative, provided funds to develop clean energy and energy efficient technologies. The Onshore Carbon Storage Project has been established through the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Initiative to evaluate and establish suitable sites to store CO2 captured from power stations and other large emitters.

Further details of each project, including associated publications, conference presentations and journal articles released by Geoscience Australia, can be found on the following pages.