The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) Resource and Environmental Regulation Group actively assesses and promotes the petroleum prospectivity of Western Australia. While oil exploration has been occurring since the early 1900s in Western Australia, it is the past 40 years that have seen significant exploration, production and marketing developments.
Petroleum acreage releases
Acreage releases are generally made once or twice a year for the areas within Western Australia’s jurisdiction. The releases are usually announced at significant industry events, such as:
- Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference (April-May-June)
- WA Petroleum Day (September)
Release packages are available for each release and contain:
- prospectivity reports for the release areas
- lists of available data for each release area
- details on how and when applications are to be made
- assessment criteria by which applications are to be considered
- land access information (Native Title and environment)
- other information pertinent to the particular areas
Areas from the previous release that did not attract successful bids in the first instance are generally re-released the following year.
How to apply for acreage
For the state onshore and offshore areas, the system of acreage gazettal inviting applications for petroleum exploration acreage identifies precise permit configurations and releases them for competitive work program bids, generally on an annual or biannual basis. Release notices are published in the Government Gazette to formalise the releases.
The approved manner for lodgement of Acreage Release applications is through the Petroleum and Geothermal Register (PGR). Applications may no longer be submitted by hand delivery or post.
Five year acreage release schedule
The department has implemented a medium to long-term, strategic approach for acreage releases in competitive bid rounds over the next five years. Our aim is to provide more transparency to the oil and gas industry and to our other stakeholders for proposed future acreage release areas.
It is intended that the acreage release schedule will be updated at least once a year after each acreage release round and when significant amounts of new prospectivity data or acreage becomes available to warrant a review.
Within a given region, discrete acreage release areas will be configured based on geological prospectivity, environmental factors, native title and cultural constraints, and land use considerations.
Industry is also encouraged to nominate specific areas for acreage release, which will be considered for the subseqent release.
The maps advise stakeholders of the following:
- Upcoming areas likely to be considered for acreage release
- Areas where Special Prospecting Authority (SPA) with or without Acreage Option (SPA/AO) applications are not currently likely to be accepted owing to future planned releases
Most of the publicly available petroleum and geothermal data can be accessed via online systems. These services provide essential reference material for anyone exploring WA for petroleum and geothermal resources.
Contact information for the different formats of petroleum data - digital reports, data packages, paleontological slides, cores and cuttings and microfiche can be found on the Western Australian Petroleum and Geothermal Information System (WAPIMS).
Users can construct and print a customised geological map and incorporate other petroleum exploration datasets including petroleum wells and active leases via GeoVIEW.WA. This is an online GIS-based mapping tool that allows users to view, query and map various geology, resources and related datasets.
In Australia, the Government controls all laws and rules for petroleum exploration and development. Responsibilities are divided between State and Commonwealth governments. The Petroleum and Geothermal Explorers Guide (2014) provides easy to read guidance to meet all relevant legislation for resource activity. The most up-to-date information on State legislation is available on the Legislative framework for petroleum and geothermal energy page.
Investment opportunities and economic information is available from Western Australia’s Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation website. Petroleum Royalties are administered and collected under State and Commonwealth legislation.
The Resource and Environmental Regulation Group produces documents and publications particularly relating to petroleum operations. The Departments eBookshop contains almost 5000 geological products including books, maps and data packages. Most of these are available in PDF format free of charge.