The annual Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release is a key part of the Australian Government's strategy to encourage petroleum exploration in Australia’s offshore waters.
The inclusion of an acreage release area means that companies can apply to explore in that area, it does not necessarily mean exploration will occur in that area in the future. Companies must apply for a release area and be assessed as a deserving applicant before decision-makers may award a petroleum exploration permit. Should a permit be awarded, it authorises the holder to apply to Australia's independent offshore petroleum regulator, NOPSEMA, for permission to undertake an activity.
The main steps in the acreage release cycle are:
shortlisting of nominated areas
consultation - undertaken in two phases:
with agencies in Commonwealth and state/Northern Territory jurisdictions with direct responsibility for managing the marine environment
a public consultation period on the proposed areas.
Following consultation, the final areas for the acreage release are announced by the responsible Commonwealth Minister and industry are invited to submit bids on the release areas.
Why We Are Consulting
This consultation process provides an opportunity for persons who have a specific interest in a proposed area to provide comments and/or information that may be useful to:
inform the acreage release
inform potential explorers of their particular interest.
A full set of maps for the proposed area below. These maps show the the proposed areas in relation to Commonwealth Marine Reserves, existing petroleum titles and infrastructure and bathymetry.
What Happens Next
This consultation has now closed. The 2017 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Relase is now being finalised and will be officially announced by the Commonwealth Minister for Resources and Northern Australia in May 2017.