Southern Frontiers Project


The Southern Frontiers project encompassed basin and margin synthesis studies of the southern continental margin, within Australia’s Marine Jurisdiction, as part of the Offshore Energy Security Program. The area of interest spaned the southern continental margin, from southwestern Tasmania in the east to Cape Leeuwin in the west. The project aimed at improving our understanding of the petroleum prospectivity and resource potential of frontier basins along the southern margin, in particular the Bight Basin and deepwater Otway and Sorell basins. This improved knowledge will underpin both promotion of selected areas for petroleum exploration via acreage release, and future marine planning, and reduce exploration risk through the provision of new data and interpretive information.


The project concluded on 30 June 2011. A series of Geoscience Australia Records documenting the results of the project are being finalised, with publication expected in late 2011.

Achievements to date:

Bight Basin Geological Sampling and Seepage Survey

In February-March 2007, Geoscience Australia undertook a major marine sampling survey to assess hydrocarbon source rock quality and potential hydrocarbon seepage in the Bight Basin. This survey resulted in the sampling of a rich, oil-prone marine source rock of Cenomanian-Turonian boundary age.

The results of the survey are available in Geoscience Australia Record 2009/24 'Bight Basin Geological Sampling and Seepage Survey: RV Southern Surveyor Survey SS01/2007'. Previous reports on the results of this survey can be found in AusGeo News December 2009, Issue No. 96 and September 2007, Issue No. 87.

Offshore Tasmania Aeromagnetic Survey

In January-April 2008, Geoscience Australia and Minerals Resources Tasmania undertook a major aeromagnetic data acquisition program in offshore western Tasmania and Bass Strait in order to improve our understanding of the Bass, southern Otway and Sorell basins. The purpose of the survey was to upgrade existing data sets and provide new data to help delineate the structural architecture of the basins and underlying basement, and the distribution of igneous rocks. Over 140 000 line km of data was acquired with a line spacing of 800m, with a 4 000m tie-line spacing. Results of the work have been reported in AusGeo News June 2010, Issue No. 98.

Bight Basin Acreage Release

In June 2009, six exploration areas in the central Ceduna Sub-basin of the Bight Basin were released for petroleum exploration. This acreage release was underpinned by Bight Basin sampling survey discovery of world-class potential source rocks and subsequent petroleum systems modelling. In January 2011, four exploration permits (EPP 37-40) were granted to BP Exploration.

This release of exploration areas was followed up in May 2010, by the release of two exploration areas in the eastern Ceduna and Duntroon Sub-basins. In July 2011, two permits (EPP 41 and 42) were granted to a new explorer, Bight Petroleum.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013