Each year, the Australian Government formally releases new offshore areas for consideration by the global petroleum exploration industry. This process, known as the Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release (Acreage Release) is the first step in the search for petroleum in Australian waters.
The Acreage Release is a key part of the Australian Government’s strategy to encourage further petroleum exploration in Australia’s offshore waters. The regular release of acreage provides explorers with new opportunities to invest in Australia’s oil and gas sector, enables industry to undertake longer term planning and allows for certainty in the release process.
The Acreage Release is underpinned by Australia’s stable economic environment and a well-established, objective-based regulatory framework, which seeks to balance environmental, social and economic considerations in the development of Australia’s natural resources.
The Acreage Release is supported by a comprehensive information package that ensures access to pre-competitive geological and geophysical data and analysis, along with the provision of quality information about issues that may impact on successful applicants. Acreage Release is supported by a comprehensive information package that ensures access to pre-competitive geological and geophysical data and analysis, along with the provision of quality information about issues that may impact on successful applicants.
In a release, the Australian Government announces a number of potential areas for which exploration companies can place bids for exploration permits (usually within a six or 12 month timeframe).
Generally, around 30 offshore areas are released at a time, comprising a mix of shallow-water and deep-water areas, areas close to existing hydrocarbon production and known prospectivity as well as underexplored and rank frontier regions.
Areas included in a release are selected following an extensive stakeholder consultation period, aimed at the provision of accurate information about environmental, fishing, security and other third party considerations that could impact on future petroleum activities in an area. This information is integrated into an annual release support package, along with detailed pre-competitive geological and geophysical data and analysis.
Inclusion in a release does not automatically mean that petroleum exploration, or future development, will occur in an area. Areas that do not attract bids during the initial release may be re-released for further bidding. The re-release of an area is at the discretion of the Joint Authority.
Assessment of bids is a competitive process against publically available criteria. An explorer will only be granted a permit if they can satisfy decision-makers that they have the ability to carry out exploration activities in a manner that minimise the risk to acceptable levels. Following this process, if an exploration permit is granted it could be a several years before any physical exploration activities occur in the area.
Please note: the above Acreage Release websites contain links to external organisations and businesses outside of the department's domain. Linking to external websites does not imply endorsement of the products, services and opinion offered by those sites.