Companies awarded three new offshore petroleum exploration permits are expected to spend more than $150 million to investigate areas off the Western Australian coast.
Mines Minister George Cash and Federal Resources Minister David Beddall said two of the locations - areas W94-11 and W94-12 - were situated on the North West Shelf to the north and north-east of Barrow Island while the third location - area W94-10 - was located in the Timor Sea.
Following successful bidding the permit for area W94-10 had been awarded to BHP Petroleum (North West Shelf); a consortium led by Victoria Petroleum NL was awarded area W94-11; and West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd would investigate W94-12.
Mr Cash said that over the next six years the companies proposed work programs with a total expenditure of $157.4 million, which would involve the drilling of 18 exploration wells and the acquisition of seismic data within the permit areas.
"This continues the trend of strong expenditure for offshore petroleum exploration over the past five years which reached a total of $520 million in 1994-95 - a large proportion of this amount being spent on areas off the WA coast," he said.
Mr Beddall said most of the bidding interest had been centred on area W94-10 with eight competing bids lodged. The area was situated in the Timor Sea and adjoined the Australia-Indonesia zone of co-operation to the east and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands to the west.
"With new oil and gas discoveries in both of the adjoining areas this location is considered to have excellent potential," he said.
Mr Beddall said the work program proposed by BHP Petroleum in area W94-10 was one of the most aggressive proposed by any exploration company in the last 20 years.
"This reflects the company's assessment of the potential of the area, but equally it demonstrates that Government policies designed to attract investment are working," he said.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595