02/10/2009 - 15:59

Woodside spearheads new WA gas hunt

02/10/2009 - 15:59


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Woodside Petroleum has committed to spend at least $120 million to explore for gas in its newest permit off the Pilbara coast.

Woodside Petroleum has committed to spend at least $120 million to explore for gas in its newest permit off the Pilbara coast.

Woodside was today named the winning bidder for the big WA-434-P permit in deep water more than 300km north west of Exmouth.

The permit, which was offered as part of the government's annual release of exploration acreage, lies about 100km west of BHP Billiton and ExxonMobil's big Scarborough gasfield which will supply BHP and Exxon's proposed Pilbara LNG development at Onslow.

Woodside was awarded the permit by pledging to spend at least $121.5 million over the next three years by completing an extensive 2D and 3D seismic program and completing at least four exploration wells. Depending on the results of that work, Woodside also submitted plans for a secondary work program worth $24 million to be completed over the following three years.

At the same time, Shell and Chevron were awarded the adjoining WA-439-P permit immediately to the south, by pledging to spend at least $25.25 million on exploration over the first three years.

The two permits together accounted for more than 90 per cent of the total $158 million pledged on exploration by the successful bidders for the ten latest permits to be awarded by the federal government. The other permits were in the Bonaparte and Roebuck basins off the far north-west coast..

Other companies to win permits included private US explorer Murphy Australia Oil, Finder Exploration, Carnarvon Petroleum, Goldsborough Energy and Diamond Resources Australia.

Federal resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson said the scale of the work pledged underlined the importance of offshore petroleum exploration investment to the Australian economy. Australia's energy security depended on continuing investment in offshore petroleum exploration, he said.

"Despite the global economic downturn, the awarding of these ten new exploration permits indicates that Australia remains a highly attractive and secure destination for offshore petroleum exploration. This additional investment in Australia's offshore petroleum exploration sector not only offers exciting potential for petroleum discovery but will ultimately help to further develop our petroleum resources and underpin our security of energy supply."


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