2020 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release address

APPEA Re-Connect Event


View the video: APPEA Re-Connect Event - Minister Pitt's address.


Thanks to Andrew McConville and his team at APPEA for once again hosting this event.

It’s great to have people from across Australia and around the world join us today as we launch Australia’s 2020 offshore petroleum exploration acreage release.

The release is central to ensuring Australia’s energy security as well as the energy security of many of our international friends and trading partners.

It continues to be a key component of the Government's strategy to promote and encourage investment in petroleum exploration.

As you all well know, we are living in unprecedented times, and I acknowledge the impact the COVID pandemic is having on the oil and gas industry.

The Australian offshore petroleum industry is certainly facing challenging times in the current environment along with low oil and gas prices. 

This is compounded by uncertainties caused by domestic and inter4national travel bans, and supply chain constraints associated with COVID-19.

To assist industry to work through the pandemic, in April I announced measures to allow greater flexibility in the regulatory regime for exploration title holders.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had seen an upward trend in exploration.

Even during the challenges of the last financial year we have seen significant activities occur, including;

  • Six exploration seismic surveys have been completed.
  • Two significant gas discoveries in the Browse Basin (Bratwurst) and in the Otway Basin (Annie).
  • Further appraisal of the Dorado oil and gas field by Santos.
  • BP received approval for its Environment Plan for the Ironbark-1 well near the North West Shelf project in the Carnarvon Basin.
  • Production licenses over the Scarborough and Browse projects have been submitted and a production licence over the Barossa project has been granted.

I commend the industry for continuing to explore and operate safely during this challenging time.

In particular I thank the industry for its hard work to keep its workforce safe during the pandemic.

The government strongly believes exploration will play a key role in helping our economy recover from the pandemic.

That’s why it is important that the 2020 acreage release proceed as planned.

I am pleased to announce that a total of 42 areas, covering around 100,000 square kilometres in the Bonaparte, Browse, Northern Carnarvon, Otway and Gippsland basins, are being released this year.

This year’s acreage release is dominated by areas in established oil and gas areas with existing infrastructure.

  • This is consistent with the drive to ensure major projects maintain steady supplies into the future and to lower costs of development in our current capital constrained world.

As the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, I’m pleased to see many areas for this years’ release located in the north.

Developing northern Australia is a priority for Government.

This release will help attract more exploration programs and open up new developments, creating new jobs and stimulating economic growth.

I’m also delighted to see continued interest in south-east Australia, with three new areas being available for bidding in the Otway and Gippsland basins.

These areas provide great opportunities to add new gas to Australia’s east coast gas market.

In support of the acreage release, the Australian Government continues to provide ready access to large volumes of open file data via the online National Offshore Petroleum Information Management System (NOPIMS [N-O-P-I-M-S]).

The results of ongoing regional petroleum geological studies by Geoscience Australia, also assists the industry in their exploration efforts.

For existing and future titleholders alike, I want to stress the importance of finding innovative and mutually beneficial ways of working with other marine users.

As titleholders, are required to consult with relevant stakeholders, including the fishing industry, in the course of preparing an environment plan.

Maintaining good relations with the fisheries sector is crucial to ensure that both industries can continue to operate efficiently and I encourage them to work together and collaborate on proposals.

This year’s acreage release presents strong investment opportunities and I encourage you to submit your work program bid before the closing date of 1 June 2021.

I want to ensure Australia remains an attractive destination for exploration investment and most importantly that we deliver long-term energy security for all Australians.