Offshore Acreage Releases

Last updated:28 November 2023

The development of Australia’s offshore resources in Commonwealth waters is undertaken through the release of offshore acreage for greenhouse gas storage and exploration for oil and gas. These releases provide industry with access to prospective regions in offshore regions in Australia’s Commonwealth waters. Each release area is supported with a suite of comprehensive pre-competitive geological and geophysical data sets made available freely by the Australian Government, providing relevant reliable information to support business investment decisions.

The acreage release processes for both the offshore petroleum exploration and greenhouse gas storage are led by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR). An outline of the offshore acreage release process is outlined below, with more detailed information also available on the Department’s websites for offshore petroleum exploration and greenhouse gas storage acreage releases.

The main steps of the acreage release process are:

  • Nominating areas for future exploration
    Companies are invited to nominate areas for exploration by completing an online nomination form.
  • Selection of nominated areas
    Following a review by DISR, Geoscience Australia and consultation with other government agencies, a short list of proposed release areas is submitted to the Commonwealth Minister for Resources who approves the areas for progression to a public consultation process.
  • Public consultation on nominated areas
    The government submits the proposed release areas for public consultation and, after reviewing the responses may modify the number and/or shapes of the nominated offshore block(s) prior to formal release.
  • Bidding on release areas
    Following the release companies are invited to submit work program bids for each of the areas by the specified closing date.
  • Assessment of work program bids
    The National Offshore Petroleum Title Administrator (NOPTA) assesses the submitted work program bids and in collaboration with the respective Joint Authorities (State/Territory jurisdictions) agrees on the final list of recommended areas for the Commonwealth Minister for Resources to proceed with the offer and final award exploration permits.
  • Offer of exploration permits
    Successful bidders are offered an offshore exploration permit for a six year period, of which the first three years represent a commitment to fulfill the government-approved work program.

Geoscience Australia supports the acreage release process and ongoing investment in exploration with a suite of regional offshore geological information, comprising summaries on stratigraphy/sedimentology, recognised petroleum systems, exploration and production histories, marine environmental information and key references.

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