Today the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety said it would do its utmost to help junior explorers and larger producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price crash.
Under the new temporary measures, affected titleholders can apply for the suspension of work program commitments on "force majeure grounds" relating to COVID-19.
Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Operators will need to submit their applications no less than three months prior to the end of a title's permit and will need to provide "compelling evidence" that work programs have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Applications will not be considered on the grounds of COVID-19 where work commitments should have been completed prior to the declaration of Western Australia's State of Emergency on 15 March 2020," DMIRS said in a notice today.
The DMIRS guidance comes a week after the WA state Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston acknowledged the "significant impacts" on oil and gas companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The State Government acknowledges that the measures taken by various levels of government to restrict the spread of COVID-19 will challenge the sector in a way that hasn't been seen before," Johnston said.
"Industry is already reporting the impacts COVID-19 is having on planned work programs."
In April Perth-basin miner and gas explorer Mineral Resources submitted a force majeur claim "to cover all exploration programs" due to the virus outbreak.