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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11451

Saudi Arabia

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter of 16 August 2017 concerning petition EN0260 regarding

Australia's relationship with Saudi Arabia. I will address the section of the petition relating to resources issues. Other matters raised will be addressed by the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis.

Oil is an important source of energy, supplying most of Australia's transport needs. However, Australia no longer has the domestic crude oil resources to be self-sufficient in liquid fuels. Australia relies on the global market to meet our local needs and is part of a global petroleum supply chain with access to diverse sources for oil and refined fuels.

Australia sources significant quantities of both crude oil and refined petroleum products from around a dozen countries, with no country providing more than one-third of Australia's total imports of either crude oil or refined product. No crude oil or refined products were imported from Saudi Arabia in 2016-17.

Although Australia has limited domestic supplies of oil currently, there remains potential for discovery of additional oil resources. Facilitating discovery of the next major oil province is a priority for me and my portfolio agencies.

Australian governments do not undertake commercial petroleum exploration or development directly; rather, governments provide a regulatory framework for exploration, development, safety, environmental assessment and revenue collection.

The Australian Government's annual Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release (acreage release) is a key part of the Australian Government's strategy to promote petroleum exploration in Australia's offshore waters. The acreage release provides explorers with new offshore areas to explore via a bidding process.

Each year my department works with Geoscience Australia to offer a variety of investment opportunities supported by pre-competitive geological and geophysical data and analysis. The 2017 acreage release includes areas for bidding in the Bass, Otway and Gippsland Basins that are all proven oil-producing basins.

More information about the acreage release and promoting petroleum exploration offshore Australia can be found at www.petroleum-acreage.gov.au.

Thank you again for writing on this matter. I trust my comments are of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr Joyce