Australia’s Future Energy Resources

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Australia has abundant natural energy resources and the energy sector makes a substantial contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product, export earnings and employment. Building on Australia’s existing role as a trusted domestic supplier and exporter of energy commodities, this continental-scale project seeks to secure continued prosperity though finding, evaluating and documenting new energy resources to meet the growing demands of a low-emissions global economy.

Australia’s Future Energy Resources will evaluate the prospectivity and energy resource potential of key underexplored Australian basins with an initial focus on central Australian basins. The project will investigate and map prospective hydrocarbon resources, including both conventional and unconventional natural gas and oil. A particular aspect of the project will be evaluating the use of enhanced oil recovery technology to produce residual oil zones with associated capture and storage of CO2. Furthermore, the project will assess the availability of groundwater resources at a national scale and will map appropriate hydrogen storage areas, including thick salt accumulations.

Suitable hydrogen storage options are a key component in the establishment of a new hydrogen export industry. To date, sub-surface salt accumulations have been identified as an ideal storage option, however, in the absence of practical salt storage options, depleted gas reservoirs or even aquifer stratigraphic traps may be required. This project will also help to find suitable strategic hydrogen storage resources to support Australia’s ambitions to become a top three clean hydrogen energy exporter to the Asian region.

The project will use the same methodologies as those successfully applied by the petroleum industry to evaluate energy resource potential in sedimentary basins. Gap analyses highlighting the current geological knowledge about the target areas will inform an integrated workflow involving a comprehensive integrated basin analysis; a systematic spatially enabled evaluation of the resource potential of key energy commodities; and feasibility studies of energy resource developments. Onshore basin inventories will provide a whole-of-basin summary of the geology, petroleum systems, exploration status and data coverage.

Through this project, Geoscience Australia will be able to produce industry standard energy resource assessments, while also increasing our capabilities for undertaking energy resources assessments in other key prospective regions.