Obtaining a petroleum title

Release of acreage for exploration

Topsides of the Wheatstone platform located 225 km offshore from Ashburton North (courtesy Chevron Australia)
Topsides of the Wheatstone platform located 225 km offshore from Ashburton North (courtesy Chevron Australia)

For State areas, under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 or Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982, the Department of Mines and Petroleum identifies precise petroleum exploration acreage permit configurations and releases them for competitive bids, inviting applications. These are known as ‘acreage releases’ and are generally made twice a year for the areas within Western Australia’s jurisdiction.

State releases are formalised by way of publication in the Western Australia Government Gazette and details of the releases can be found at Acquiring acreage and prospective areas and in release package, which are available from the department. Find out about the Release of acreage for exploration (page 82).

Acreage Option for Special Prospecting Authorities

In addition to the Acreage Release process, under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 or Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982, explorers may at any time apply for a Special Prospecting Authority with Acreage Option. The Acreage Option must be sought in conjunction with the Special Prospecting Authority application and cannot be applied for retrospectively. The purpose of this title is to conduct a geophysical or geochemical survey (or other operational activity other than the making of a well), to identify areas that have the potential for further exploration. Explorers may then exercise the Acreage Option by making an application for an Exploration Permit or Drilling Reservation in respect of the block or those blocks identified as prospective.

Illustration of the Wheatstone plant site, looking south (courtesy Chevron Australia)
Illustration of the Wheatstone plant site, looking south (courtesy Chevron Australia)

The Acreage Option must be exercised by applying for an Exploration Permit or Drilling Reservation within the application period specified in the Special Prospecting Authority with Acreage Option instrument following the maximum six-month term of the Authority.

The Special Prospecting Authority with Acreage Option is intended to encourage exploration in areas where little or no exploration has been undertaken (so called ‘greenfields’ or ‘frontier’ areas) and is not appropriate for actively explored areas. For more information on the Acreage Option for Special Prospecting Authorities (page 82).

Farm-in to existing titles

Interests in petroleum titles can be bought and sold and farm-in/farm-outs are a regular occurrence. All such dealings and transfers need to be approved and registered by the Government and an ad valorem registration fee system applies. For more information about Farm-in to existing titles (page 83).

Derivative titles

Once a petroleum discovery is made, exploration title holders have the right to convert that discovery to a Production Licence. Should the discovery be demonstrated as presently non-commercial but likely to become so within 15 years, an interim title called a Retention Lease, may be granted.