The Papuan Basin stretches across both Papuan New Guinea (PNG) and Australian territory. The Australian section lies off the northeast coast of Queensland and is poorly explored with only 1 well in the 7000 km2 area.
The basin has a complex history - initially during the Middle to Late Triassic, the basin was in an extensional passive margin setting before it entered a compressional foreland basin regime in the Neogene following the collision of PNG with the Melanesian island arc. The basin is bounded to the north and northeast by basement highs, consisting of igneous and metamorphic rocks of the Central Highlands and Owen Stanley Ranges. To the south, the basin boundary is not well defined and it is contiguous with the Carpentaria Basin toward the southwest. The Queensland components of the Papuan Basin include the Pandora Trough, Flinders Sub-basin and the southern Fly Platform. Papuan Basin sediments also onlap basement rocks of the Cape York Oriemo High. Up to 6 km of Triassic to Cainozoic marine and non-marine sedimentary rocks overlie Palaeozoic basement in water depths ranging up to 1700 metres.
Anchor Cay-1, the only well drilled in the Australian part of the Papuan Basin, had dead oil stains within the Jurassic sequence. The most commonly sought after play within the Papuan New Guinea part of the basin involves a combination of Middle and Late Jurassic source rocks and the Early Cretaceous Toro Sandstone reservoir. Part of the Papuan Basin lies within the Torres Strait Protected Zone.