Offshore Acreage Release

The responsible development of offshore resources is a high priority for the Australian Government and is directly supported by the annual release of acreage for petroleum exploration. The release enables industry to undertake longer term planning, provides certainty in the release process, ensures access to comprehensive pre-competitive geological and geophysical data, and ensures the provision of quality information about issues that may impact on successful applicants.

The main steps of the acreage release process are:

  • Nominations of areas to be considered for the next gazettal round are sought during a three month period after the formal annual release by the government. The proposed areas are then published in the December issue of Australian Petroleum News (APN), a digital newsletter published by the Department of Industry. It is important to note that nominating an area does not guarantee inclusion in the gazettal round. Please email petroleum.exploration@industry.gov.au if you wish to be added to the distribution list.
  • Consultation then takes place with the relevant Australian Government, State and Territory agencies that have responsibilities or interests in offshore areas. These agencies cover Australia's maritime boundaries, environment, fisheries, defence, maritime safety, communications, and native title interests.
  • The formal release of areas generally coincides with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference, normally held between March and May of each year.
  • The Release Areas are announced in the relevant Australian or State/Territory Government Gazette and a comprehensive Acreage Release information package is made available to stakeholders via the Department of Industry's Acreage Release website.
  • Information seminars that promote the new exploration opportunities are held at domestic and international venues, which are advised through the APN.
  • Following the Acreage Release, companies have either six or twelve months to prepare their bids, depending on the closing date for a particular release area, which is determined by the status of the acreage. A different closing date may apply to areas that are released for cash bidding.
  • Within two months of a closing date, areas that do not attract a bid may be re-released. Re-released areas are advertised in the APN and are open for bidding until the next closing round.
  • All work program bids for the Release Areas are assessed against the selection criteria by the relevant Joint Authority, who will offer exploration permits to the winning applicants.