New Petroleum Exploration Acreage in Cooper and Otway Basins


Bidding is now open for five new Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) in the Cooper Basin in the State’s Far North and three new petroleum exploration licences in the Otway Basin in the State’s Limestone Coast region.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to the expansion of South Australia’s resources sector and the jobs and investment that will deliver for our state,” said Minister for Mining and Energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“The Marshall Government understands escalating world demand for gas and oil presents enormous potential for growth in the local resources sector and the role it plays in underpinning South Australia’s economic foundations.”

Minister van Holst Pellekaan said this is the first major release of multiple Cooper Basin blocks since 2013.

“Companies operating in the Cooper Basin have sustained world-class exploration success rates since the frontier was opened to new explorers in 1998, confirming the basin’s reputation as an excellent exploration investment destination,” said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

“These exploration success rates have also helped to drive a significant increase in South Australian oil production through exciting new play trends such as the Cooper Basin’s Western Flank.”

The Cooper Basin contains approximately 150 gas fields and 90 oil fields currently on production. These fields contain approximately 700 producing gas wells and more than 360 producing oil wells.

“Winning Cooper and Otway basin bidders will be selected on the basis of the total five-year work program bid.

“Applicants must provide information on the adequacy of their financial resources and technical expertise to satisfactorily undertake the proposed work program and their ability to ensure overall regulatory compliance.”

A total of 13,584.1 km2 is available for work program bidding in the SA Cooper and Eromanga basins (Figure 1 – map of Cooper Basin release blocks).

The five blocks (CO2019-A to E) offer a diversity of play types and the opportunity to build a portfolio of prospects and leads across the Warburton, Cooper and Eromanga basins.

Following recent acreage relinquishments, three new PELs in the Otway Basin are also being offered for work program bidding (Blocks OT2019-A to C).

The release totals 6950.8 km2 (Figure 2 – map of Otway Basin release blocks) and offers a diversity of conventional Early and Late Cretaceous oil and gas plays.

This offer comes at a time when there is strong demand for gas in South East Australia..

Applicants are reminded of the 10-year moratorium on fracture stimulation operations in the Limestone Coast Region enacted by the South Australian Government on 7 September 2018.

“However, it is business as usual for conventional petroleum operations in the region,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

The grant of a PEL does not enable regulated activities within those tenements.

The successful bidder will be able to acquire seismic and drill conventional oil and gas wells, subject to the requisite approval processes under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000.

The petroleum industry is also required to engage meaningfully with relevant landowners, stakeholders and the community during the life cycle of a project, including project planning and negotiating land access through to decommissioning.

Approval for an activity whether in the Cooper Basin or Otway Basin including geophysical surveys, drilling and subsequent potential production is a separate process to the work program bidding process. Those activities are subject to a separate rigorous assessment and consultation processes.

To better inform community perceptions about gas exploration, development and production, the State Government has partnered with CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) to carry out independent research within the Limestone Coast region.

Details on the research projects currently being undertaken by GISERA can be found online at:

Both Cooper and Otway basin bidding closes at 4.00 pm Australian Central Daylight Time, Friday 29 November 2019.