Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) Project


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What is SOPAC?

The Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) is an intergovernmental, regional organisation with members including Pacific island countries and territories, as well as Australia and New Zealand. SOPAC's work is carried out through its secretariat which is based in Suva, Fiji.

The Commission was established in 1972 under the Economic and Social Division of the United Nations as a project titled the Committee for Coordination of Joint Prospecting for Mineral Resources in South Pacific Offshore Areas, to promote offshore mineral and petroleum prospecting. With funding from its member countries, donor countries and international agencies to steer its annual operations, the secretariat became autonomous in 1984. While the initial focus of its work was on marine mapping and geosciences, its scope has broadened in recent years to include hazard assessment and risk management, environmental vulnerability, oceanography, energy, water and sanitation and information and communication technologies.

SOPAC Petroleum Data Bank


The SOPAC Petroleum Data Bank stores petroleum exploration data on behalf of member countries Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga which has been gathered by companies and research institutions from 1972 to the late 1980s. The data in the form of magnetic tapes, seismic sections, maps and reports is open file and can be purchased by contacting the data manager. The information pertains to the petroleum exploration of the South West Pacific and would be of interest to exploration companies and research institutions with interests in the area.


The decision to store the SOPAC data at Geoscience Australia and assign a person to administer the data was made in 1988 by the Executive Director of Geoscience Australia's predecessor, the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources, and Australia's representative to SOPAC, Professor Roy Rutland. Until that decision was made the data was stored in various repositories around the world with some stored locally by member countries. These wide distributions of data led to problems with accessing the information by interested groups. With funding assistance from Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (now AusAID) companies, universities, individuals and member countries were requested to provide any petroleum data to the newly developed data bank in Canberra, Australia where it was sorted, catalogued and stored in climate controlled facilities. Data catalogues were produced and, along with petroleum potential brochures, the information was distributed to companies, universities, etc by publicising its availability through petroleum exploration conferences in Australia and the near region.



Achievements to Date

An information CD is available for $40.00 plus courier charges and postage, giving a broad overview of prospecting in the region.

Reports, maps and seismic sections have been digitised and DVD's for $100.00 plus courier charges and postage, are available for each country.

Papua New Guinea Solomon Islands Vanuatu Fiji Tonga

For further information please contact Geoscience Australia's Sales Office

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013