Opening up WA's frontier basins

NEW data released by Geoscience Australia has shone a light on new petroleum frontiers off Western Australia and opened up the possibility of new oil and gas discoveries to supply Australia's future energy needs.
Opening up WA's frontier basins Opening up WA's frontier basins Opening up WA's frontier basins Opening up WA's frontier basins Opening up WA's frontier basins

The new seismic reflection was obtained in underexplored and unexplored areas offshore, extending from the southern tip of Western Australia at Cape Leeuwin to as far north as Exmouth.

The survey acquired about 7300 kilometres of seismic reflection data from the Mentelle Basin off Bunbury, the Zeewyck and Houtman sub-basins within the Perth Basin, the Carnarvon Basin and the Wallaby Plateau.

In addition, more than 11,700km of existing seismic data was also reprocessed to enhance understanding of the region's geology.

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the release of pre-competitive seismic data and seafloor mapping studies of frontier areas off WA - including some of the extended continental shelf acquired in 2008 - would inform the petroleum acreage release process for 2010 and future years, and result in new exploration in frontier areas.

The minister said that while Australia was one of only three net energy-exporting nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development it had a $16 billion trade deficit in crude oil, refined products and LPG.

He also said that Australia's oil production comes from just seven major fields and between 2000 and 2009, the country's oil and condensate production dropped by more than 40%.

"While we are a country rich in coal, gas and uranium resources, our energy security will be greatly enhanced if we are successful in opening up new oil frontiers and can reduce our dependence on imports," he said.

"Western Australian would benefit from more domestic gas supply and competition, and if we can discover gas closer to demand centres in the southwest, it could be less expensive to produce and get to market and that will be good for households and good for value-adding industry development."

A 1996-97 geoscience study carried out by Geoscience Australia in the Browse Basin resulted in Inpex taking up exploration acreage in 2008 and discovering the Ichthys gas-condensate field, the largest liquids discovery since the 1960s.

The offshore frontier survey was the last data acquisition under the Offshore Energy Security program and the New Petroleum program.

Geoscience Australia will now focus on reprocessing the data it has collected to strategically target future work programs to enhance Australia's long-term energy security.