The opening of a new oil exploration well near the Monte Bello Islands was a highly prospective venture for the future development of the Western Australian oil industry, according to Mines Minister George Cash.
Mr Cash said the Wonnich 1 petroleum well was situated near the successful Harriet oil field, located off the State's North-West coastline, and by all indications the area could yield a major source of oil product.
"This could be a major development for the oil industry in WA and it has been an important achievement for Ampolex Ltd to be given this opportunity for exploration in such a potentially resource rich location," he said.
"It is this type of venture that is crucial for Australia to maintain its self-sufficiency in producing oil products."
Mr Cash said strict new environmental conditions had been imposed on oil exploration drilling near the Monte Bello Islands because of their high conservation value.
"People are concerned about the possible effect of oil spills on the area, but extensive investigations by the Environmental Protection Authority have addressed these issues," Mr Cash said.
The Minister said oil companies operating throughout Australia had a proven track record as an environmental responsible industry.
"Oil companies have been drilling and producing oil product from the Harriet oil field for nearly 10 years without incident which highlights how seriously the industry views its environmental commitments," he said.
"Ampolex will put into place state-of-the-art oil spill prevention measures as a safety precaution, but the chance of an oil spill is minimal."
Mr Cash said added safety precautions included the use of only one exploration well for a short period of time and any oil discovered was likely to be light crude which evaporated and degraded very quickly.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595