Under a new fund, the government will waive all rents, freeze mandatory fees, and relax red tape in an effort to prop up Australian oil and gas companies in Queensland, an effort energy minister Dr Anthony Lynham hopes will sustain jobs and investment.
Around A$2.8 million in grant funds for exploration in the North West will immediately be made available to oil and gas and mineral explorers. Companies can apply for funds of up to $200,000 from today.
"A strong pipeline of exploration is critical to our future gas projects, to future jobs and to the future business opportunities for Queensland companies," Lynham said in a statement this morning.
"We have to ensure the survival of our explorers, many of them small to medium businesses, until the current situation improves, and the economy recovers."
The government said today it would also bring forward a 6700 sq.km acreage release to this month for oil and gas explorers. From the 14th of May explorers can bid on new exploration tenements in central and south-west Queensland.
Minister Lynham noted several gas exploration companies had shelved or delayed projects and smaller companies were faced with the twin struggle of COVID-19 restrictions and the oil price crash, making it harder for some companies to raise essential capital for exploration.
"Our package will ensure exploration continues to identify the next wave of resources projects and jobs," he added.
The move to provide funds to the oil and gas sector comes just a day after the industry peak body condemned moves by the state government to increase royalties by 25%.
Queensland state treasurer Jackie Trad plans to increase royalty rates from 10% to 12.5% this month. The higher rate would raise an additional A$470 million to the state's budget over four years according to government figures.