Release 1 of 2017 - Canning Basin

Petroleum Acreage Release 1 of 2017 Release Areas Map

Petroleum Acreage Release Canning Basin

Released: Tuesday 16 May 2017

Closed: Thursday 1 February 2018

Release 1 of 2017 - Canning Basin

The department 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:

L17-1, L17-2, L17-3, L17-4 and L17-5

Release Areas L17-1, L17-2 and L17-3 are contiguous and collectively cover 17 664 km2 of the most explored parts of the Broome and Crossland Platforms and the Barbwire Terrace. To the south, Release Areas L17-4 and L17-5 are contiguous and together cover 12 905 km2, mainly in the northwestern Kidson Sub-basin.

Seismic coverage and well control vary from good to sparse. The landscape is a Quaternary surface of sand plains and longitudinal seif (stationary) dunes, mainly covered by open spinifex grassland with scattered outcrops of Permian and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks.

Access is afforded via a network of unsealed roads and tracks, which are linked to the sealed Great Northern Highway. The closest town is Fitzroy Crossing, about 150 km to the north of the northern Release Areas. Storage and port facilities are available in Broome and Derby, about 250 km to the northwest and the Telfer gas pipeline lies in the southwest.

Previous exploration

In the central and southern Canning Basin, petroleum exploration commenced during the 1950s, when the Bureau of Mineral Resources (now Geoscience Australia) and West Australian Petroleum embarked on regional geological mapping, reconnaissance geophysical surveys and stratigraphic drilling across the basin. By the end of the1970s, several companies were exploring in the basin.

In the wake of oil discoveries on the Lennard Shelf, exploration activities surged during the 1980s, and the central platforms and flanking terraces of the basin attracted more attention. Western Mining Corporation drilled a series of wells on the Barbwire Terrace and Amoco Australia Petroleum acquired a large amount of seismic data across the southeastern Broome Platform and the northwestern Kidson Sub-basin.

Subdued exploration activity in the 1990s saw Shell reprocess 2567 line-km of previous seismic data and acquire 1540 line-km of new data and 5519 km of aeromagnetic data.

In 2005, Kingsway drilled Sally May 1, which encountered significant oil shows in the Nita Formation. The company also drilled Sally May 2 in 2009, after the interpretation and calibration of magnetotelluric (MT) data with data from drill stem tests (DST) in several nearby wells, including Sally May 1, Looma 1 and Acacia 2.

During 2013–14, CSIRO published results of petrophysical, microstructural, clay mineralogy and textural analyses on cores from the Bongabinni and the Goldwyer Formations from Sally May 1 and 2, as potential shale gas reservoirs. It was concluded that the former is mechanically stronger than the latter, probably due to a more rigid microstructure.

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

Canning Basin Geological Map

The onshore Canning Basin is a large, intracratonic, predominantly Paleozoic basin that ranges in age from Ordovician to Cretaceous. It is significantly under explored, with relatively minor oil and gas production, although widespread shows at many stratigraphic levels and in different geological settings show 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 close to six 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
  • Further exploration could be highly successful based on the presence of five discovered oilfields, new gas discoveries, widespread and numerous petroleum shows, 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
  • A gas pipeline runs along the southern margin of the Canning Basin to Telfer, the site of one of Australia’s largest gold mines

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 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 enquiries please contact the Petroleum Division