The discoveries, between 55km and 70km south of Port Campbell, are operated by Woodside Energy Ltd. on behalf of two joint ventures involving Origin Energy Resources Limited, Benaris International N.V. and CalEnergy Gas (Australia) Limited.
Woodside's Otway Development Manager, Bruce Steenson, said that environmental approvals for development of the gas fields would be covered by Commonwealth and Victorian legislation.
Both jurisdictions have agreed on a coordinated assessment process under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and the Victorian Environment Effects Act.
The process will enable an integrated assessment of the potential environmental impact of the development.
Mr Steenson said that agreement by the Commonwealth and Victoria on a joint assessment enabled the joint venturers to progress environmental studies and ensure a streamlined assessment process.
"The decision on the approvals process is welcomed by the joint venturers and neatly fits with work done to date on feasibility studies focussed on increasing our understanding of the gas reservoirs and the screening of potential development options," Mr Steenson said.
"We are now focussing on progressing the feasibility of some of these options, which include several new wells, subsea manifolds and flowlines, and possibly a small offshore platform over one of the fields with a pipeline to shore where the gas will be processed and connected to the Victorian gas transmission pipeline network.
"We remain committed to the early development of these new gas reserves with more than $15 million expected to be spent on studies this year."
"We share a common goal of participating in the eastern states gas market, offering a new source of gas supply to the region and increased security of supply."
Scope for recovery volumes for the combined Geographe and Thylacine fields are about 0.8 trillion cubic feet of gas and about nine million barrels of condensate. Mr Steenson said that the partners would be aiming to book reserves at the end of 2002.
The fields are expected to contain sufficient gas to provide more than 10% of current annual demand in south-eastern Australia for at least 10 years.
Participants in VIC/P43 (Geographe) are Woodside Energy Ltd. (55%), Origin Energy Resources Limited (30%) and CalEnergy Gas (Australia) Limited (15%). Participants in T/30P (Thylacine) are Woodside Energy Ltd (50%), Origin Energy Resources Limited (30%) and Benaris International N.V. (20%). Woodside is the operator of both permits.