Mines Minster George Cash said the issue of three new petroleum exploration permits indicated a sustained upturn in onshore exploration.
The permits included two in the onshore Canning Basin, near Broome, and one in the onshore Perth Basin, near Geraldton.
Mr Cash announced the following permits:
· Exploration Permit EP390 was awarded to Stirling Resources NL on the basis of a six-year program of three wells and 50 km of seismic acquisition at an estimated cost of $3.6 million.
· Exploration Permit EP391 was awarded to Stirling Resources NL on the basis of a six-year program of one well and 50 km of seismic acquisition at an estimated cost of $1.95 million.
· Exploration Permit EP394 was awarded to Discovery Petroleum NL on the basis of a six-year program of one well and 50 km of seismic acquisition at an estimated cost of $1.95 million.
Mr Cash said the increase in activity by petroleum companies could be attributed to Government initiatives aimed at stimulating exploration.
"In 1993 there were only six onshore exploration wells, but this more than doubled to 14 wells last year with a similar forecast for well numbers this year," he said.
The Minister said the traditional yardstick of exploration activity was gauged by the number of offshore ventures involving seismic testing and drilling but offshore activity had decreased last year compared to an increase in onshore.
"An onshore increase suggests that explorers are obviously more happy to risk capital if they have confidence that the Government is supportive of their special needs," Mr Cash said.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595