Australia is a vast continent which is largely under-explored in many regions. Large areas have poorly distributed data; some areas are completely untested for their resource potential. In addition, a large amount of onshore data is old and of poor quality.

In 2016–2020, Geoscience Australia focused on northern Australia, and in terms of Energy, on attracting industry investment by delivering a suite of new pre-competitive geoscience data and knowledge across the region. Activities concentrated on the evaluation of the oil and gas prospectivity and resource potential of sedimentary basins.

For industry to commit to exploration in frontier regions, additional pre-competitive information is needed to adequately evaluate the resource potential. This will effectively de-risk the area and give industry the confidence to initiate exploration activities.

Our knowledge of prospective basins in northern Australia for oil and gas is based on the currently available data. Historically, the most valuable data to predict oil and gas resources has been seismic reflection data to understand the architecture of the basins and corresponding well data to analyse the potential of an active petroleum system. These techniques have been the primary acquisition techniques for the new data due to their effectiveness; however, they were supplemented by a variety of innovative techniques and interpretations to ensure the best outcomes.

Geoscience Australia is working with a range of stakeholders, including state and territory government agencies, local councils, pastoral leaseholders, local indigenous groups, and Land Councils to deliver the program. The extended and expanded program will broaden its overall focus to include the whole of Australia. More detail will be published as it is confirmed.