2020 Offshore Petroleum Acreage Release

26 August 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt today formally released the 2020 Acreage Release areas for offshore petroleum exploration at the APPEA Re-Connect Webcast.

Each year, the Australian Government provides new investment opportunities for the energy industry to pursue exploration programs in Commonwealth waters. This year’s Acreage Release includes 42 areas extending across the offshore Bonaparte, Browse, Northern Carnarvon basins across the North West Shelf, and the Otway and Gippsland basins offshore South-Eastern Australia (see image below).

Geoscience Australia’s Chief of Minerals, Energy and Groundwater Division, Dr Andrew Heap, said the new areas reflect the Government’s confidence, in and support for, an economically vibrant and successful oil and gas sector in Australia.

“Geoscience Australia supports the annual offshore petroleum acreage release as part of our energy pre-competitive program by acquiring, interpreting and integrating datasets that are made freely available, including stratigraphic charts, evaluations of existing petroleum systems, exploration histories and listings of key reference materials,” Dr Heap said.

“For example, Geoscience Australia’s recent work has challenged the perception that the Browse Basin is exclusively gas-prone, showing with new data that some of the source rocks are capable of generating liquid hydrocarbons.

“We are also supporting the renewed industry interest in the Bonaparte Basin, by investigating the geological controls on the distribution of reservoir facies associations.

“Furthermore, in line with new data acquisition by industry in the Otway Basin, Geoscience Australia has commenced a review of the petroleum geology, including a re-assessment of the petroleum systems, improving the understanding of the petroleum prospectivity in the underexplored parts of the basin.”

Dr Heap said despite the challenges of today, the oil and gas industry’s robust participation in the nomination process, and the number of work program bids submitted for new release areas is evidence of the industry’s ongoing interest to continue their exploration efforts in Australia.

“The development of Australia’s energy resources provides a recovery pathway to a post-COVID 19 economy through future resource developments that create new Australian jobs,” Dr Heap said.

“Australia has a consistent and stable framework for the release of its offshore petroleum exploration acreage, and complementing the framework is the easy access to a wealth of freely available open file petroleum data, which underpins Geoscience Australia’s energy pre-competitive program.”

The data and information from Geoscience Australia enables private industry to explore and invest with confidence, maintaining a pipeline of new discoveries, and ultimately assisting to enhance Australia’s long-term energy supply and security.

“These datasets date back to the 1960s and are accessible to the petroleum industry, research organisations and the public through our National Offshore Petroleum Information Management System (NOPIMS) – one of the largest publicly available petroleum data collections in the world,” Dr Heap said.

“NOPIMS has data and information for over 8000 wells and 2900 surveys and over 200 terabytes available for download by industry.

“Furthermore, Geoscience Australia’s Repository has over 1.3 million items of geological data for industry and research organisations – this includes 8,400km of borehole samples, 3,430 hydrocarbon samples, and 4.3 petabytes of petroleum exploration data from boreholes and surveys collected over the last 100 years by the resource industry.”

The geological information and basin pages for the 2020 offshore petroleum acreage release areas can be found at the Geoscience Australia website here.

Information on the bidding process for the 2020 offshore petroleum acreage release process, including maps for each of the 42 areas released today, is available from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources at www.industry.gov.au/2020-acreage-release.