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Frontier petroleum exploration to increase.



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18 August 2006 06/323

FRONTIER PETROLEUM EXPLORATION TO INCREASE

Australian Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, today announced the allocation of four new offshore petroleum exploration permits, all in remote frontier areas.

"Since 2004, a total of seven permits in Designated Frontier Areas have been awarded from 11 areas released, with a total indicative work program of $176 million," Mr Macfarlane said.

"The uptake of Designated Frontier Areas is a great achievement, reflecting the enormous effort by this Government to focus the hunt for 'new oil' in Australia's largely under-explored regions.

"Designated Frontier Area permits qualify for a taxation deduction of 150 per cent of exploration expenditure for petroleum resources rent tax (PRRT) purposes, providing an incentive for frontier exploration.

"Two of the frontier permits announced today are located in the Bremer Sub-basin and are the direct result of pre-competitive work by Geoscience Australia. The Prime Minister's announcement this week of an extra $76.4 million in funding to Geoscience Australia will ensure that the global exploration industry has continued access to further up-to-date pre-competitive data over Australian offshore frontier areas.

"This new funding builds on the $61 million previously provided by the Government to Geoscience Australia for pre-competitive data acquisition and remastering of existing seismic data for use in acreage release areas.

"The exploration industry has widely praised this week's announcement of this significant new funding. Geoscience Australia data is highly regarded by companies when assessing new areas," Mr Macfarlane noted.

"I will announce more exploration permits shortly."

The four new permits comprise:

• two permits located in the Bremer Sub-basin off southern Western Australia, granted to Plectrum Petroleum plc;

• one permit in the Browse Basin approximately 70km south west of the Brecknock gas field, granted to Woodside Energy Ltd; and

• one permit in the Otway Basin off South Australia to Exoil Limited, Gascorp Australia Limited, Moby Oil and Gas Limited, and National Energy Pty Ltd.

The Australian Government will administer the new permits jointly with the respective state governments. Maps and full descriptions of the areas can be found at www.industry.gov.au/petexp . CMR06-397

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Descriptions of the designated frontier permits and work programs follow:

BACKGROUND NOTE

Under the work program bidding system for the award of exploration permits in Australia's offshore areas, applicants are required to nominate a guaranteed minimum 'dry hole' exploration program for each of the first three years of the permit term and a secondary program for the remaining three years. Each component of the program must be completed in the designated year or earlier. Permits are granted for an initial term of six years.

Permit WA-378-P (released as W05-5) in the Browse Basin off north-west Western Australia has been awarded to Woodside Energy Limited. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of reprocessing 200km of 2D seismic data, the acquisition of 1,116km2 of new 3D seismic data, and studies at an estimated cost of $13.2 million. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well, acquisition of 1,000km of new 2D seismic data, and studies at an estimated cost of $26.8 million. There were two other bids for this area.

A location map for WA-378-P (W05-5) can be found at: http://www1.industry.gov.au/acreagereleases2005/html/figures/pdf/w05-5to8.pdf.

Permit WA-380-P (released as W05-23) in the Bremer Sub-basin off southern Western Australia has been awarded to Plectrum Petroleum plc. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of acquiring 1,800km of new 2D seismic data, seabed sample collections and studies at an estimated cost of $3.36 million. The secondary work program consists of a Controlled Source Electromagnetic survey, one exploration well, and studies at an estimated cost of $36.48 million. There were no other bids for this area.

A location map for WA-380-P (W05-23) can be found at: http://www1.industry.gov.au/acreagereleases2005/html/figures/pdf/w05-23and24.pdf.

Permit WA-379-P (released as W05-24) in the Bremer Sub-basin off southern Western Australia has been awarded to Plectrum Petroleum plc. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of acquiring 1,500 km of new 2D seismic data, seabed sample collections and studies at an estimated cost of $3.36 million. The secondary work program consists of a Controlled Source Electromagnetic survey, one exploration well, and studies at an estimated cost of $36.48 million. There were no other bids for this area.

A location map for WA-379-P (W05-24) can be found at: http://www1.industry.gov.au/acreagereleases2005/html/figures/pdf/w05-23and24.pdf.

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Permit EPP36 (released as S05-2) in the Otway Basin off South Australia has been awarded to Exoil Limited, Gascorp Australia Limited, Moby Oil and Gas Limited, and National Energy Pty Ltd. The companies have proposed a guaranteed work program of studies, and acquisition of 1,100km of new 2D seismic data at an estimated cost of $1.9 million. The secondary work program consists of studies and one exploration well at an estimated cost of $20.6 million. There were no other bids for this area.

A location map for EPP36 (S05-2) can be found at: http://www1.industry.gov.au/acreagereleases2005/html/figures/pdf/s05-2.pdf.