Release 1 of 2016 - Canning Basin

2016 State Acreage Release Map

Petroleum Acreage Release Canning Basin

Released: Tuesday 13 September 2016

Closed: Thursday 9 March 2017

Release 1 of 2016 - Canning Basin

The Department on Mines and Petroleum is pleased to announce the availability of onshore petroleum acreage in the Canning Basin of Western Australia.

The Canning Basin acreage release includes the following areas:

L14-3, L14-4, L14-5 and L14-6

L16-1 and L16-2

Release Areas L14-3 to L14-6 together cover 8496 km2 on the central and southern flanks of the mid-basin high of the Canning Basin. The mid-basin high is dominated by the Broome and Crossland Platforms, which are covered by at least 2 km of Ordovician, Devonian and Permian strata.

The northwestern Release Areas L14-3 to L14-5 are accessible via a network of tracks linked to the sealed, all-weather Great Northern Highway in the north. The southeastern Release Area L14-6 lies just to the east of the Canning Stock Route and is accessible from the south. The closest town is Fitzroy Crossing, about 250 km to the north. There are storage and port facilities in Broome and Derby, about 300 km to the northwest.

The landscape is a Quaternary surface of sandplains and seif dunes and is mainly covered by open spinifex grassland. The climate is arid and most of the rainfall occurs from November to April.

The proposed Great Northern Pipeline would provide access to gas markets in the Pilbara and the southwestern regions of the State. Potential commercial oil production could be trucked to Broome, Derby, Wyndham, or the Kwinana Refinery in the Perth metropolitan area.

Release Areas L16-1 and L16-2 respectively cover 4240 km2 and 4392 km2 on the southeastern Lennard Shelf. The shelf defines the northeastern margin of the Canning Basin. The landscape is dominated by carbonate ridges of the renowned Devonian reef complexes.

Release Area L16-1 is located 25 km east of the Blina oilfield. This was the first and largest of six small oilfields discovered on the shelf during the 1980s. L16-2 lies adjacent to the Prices Creek area where petroleum exploration commenced during the early 1920s.

Release Areas L16-1 and L16-2 are accessible via the Great Northern Highway. Minor roads and tracks extend from the Great Western Highway into the release areas. Unsealed roads may be waterlogged during the wet season (December–March).

The nearest town is Fitzroy Crossing which has an airport. Port towns of Broome, Derby and Wyndham are also served by public airports. Broome lies about 350 km west of Fitzroy Crossing and Derby is 200 km north of Broome. Halls Creek lies about 250 km east of Fitzroy Crossing. Derby is linked to Release Area L16-1 via the unsealed Gibb River Road.

Proximity to the Blina oilfield could facilitate commercialization of even a small oil discovery. An oil pipeline links the Blina field to the Erskine Oil Terminal on the Great Northern Highway.

Find out more on the Petroleum Prospectivity of State Acreage Release Areas L14-3 to L14-6 and L16-1 and L16-2

The approved manner for lodgement of Acreage Release applications is online through the Petroleum and Geothermal Register (PGR). Applications may no longer be submitted by hand delivery or post.

Canning Basin prospectivity

The onshore Canning Basin is a large, intracratonic, predominantly Paleozoic basin that ranges in age from Ordovician to Cretaceous. It is significantly under explored for hydrocarbon resources, with relatively minor oil and gas production, although widespread shows at many stratigraphic levels and in different geological settings indicate that there are four active petroleum systems. Despite these positive indicators, the Canning Basin may be the least explored Paleozoic basin in the world. Further exploration is warranted given that:

  • The Canning Basin has only four wells/10 000 km2, compared with the Paleozoic basins of North America which average 500 wells/10 000 km2
  • Only a small number of valid structural tests exist in the basin
  • There are more than 130 giant and supergiant oilfields and gasfields with Paleozoic sources and reservoirs that are similar to the Canning Basin, including basins in North America, North Africa, and the North Caspian Basin of Kazakhstan and Russia
  • The US Energy Information Agency reported in 2013 that the Canning Basin has the largest shale gas potential in Australia, and in fact the eighth largest in the world; they estimated it has in excess of 225 TCF of recoverable shale gas based on the Goldwyer Formation play alone
  • Further exploration could be highly successful based on the presence of five discovered oilfields, new gas discoveries, widespread and numerous petroleum shows, a huge shale gas potential, and low well density
  • There are established pathways to markets: Oil is being trucked to the Kwinana oil refinery in the Perth metropolitan area and, in the past, it was also exported from the port of Broome
Canning Basin Geological Map

Location and size

The Canning Basin is located in central northern Western Australia, approximately 1500 km northeast of Perth. It is the largest sedimentary basin in Western Australia and has an onshore area of about 530 000 km2 and an offshore area of about 110 000 km2.

Tectonic elements

The Canning Basin initially developed in the Early Paleozoic as an intracratonic sag between the Precambrian Pilbara and Kimberley Cratons. Significant tectonic events affected the basin in the:

  • Early Ordovician (extension and rapid subsidence)
  • Early Devonian (compression and erosion)
  • Late Devonian (extension and subsidence)
  • Middle and late Carboniferous to Permian (compression then subsidence)
  • Early Jurassic (transpressional uplift and erosion)

The southern Canning Basin is less intensely deformed than the northern part, which underwent major fault block movements.

Basin subdivisions

The Canning Basin is subdivided into a series of troughs, sub-basins, platforms, shelves, and terraces, bounded by northwesterly–southeasterly trending, syndepositional fault systems.

The basin subdivisions are based on present-day structural elements. However, growth faulting initially developed some of these, and troughs developed and were active at different times during the basin’s history.

For all enquires please contact the Petroleum Division