Release 1 of 2016 - Officer Basin

2016 State Acreage Release Map

Petroleum Acreage Release Officer Basin

Released: Tuesday 13 September 2016

Closed: Thursday 9 March 2017

Release 1 of 2016 - Officer Basin

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

The Officer Basin acreage release includes the following areas:

L16-3, L16-4, L16-5, L16-6, L16-7, L16-8, L16-9 and L16-10

Release areas L16-3 to L16-10 lie in the Neoproterozoic western Officer Basin, adjacent to the South Australian border. Sizes of the release areas are 5054 km2, 5511 km2, 5869 km2, 6399 km2, 5152 km2, 7273 km2, 6777 km2 and 8129 km2, respectively.

The Officer Basin and some other basins in central Australia are remnants of the vast, intracratonic Centralian Superbasin.

The Officer Basin remains underexplored mainly because of its remoteness, lack of continuous outcrops, and perceptions relating to its age (Neoproterozoic). Nevertheless, the basin shows stratigraphic affinity to, and is comparable with, prolific petroleum producing Neoproterozoic basins in Russia and Oman.

The area is largely flat with an arid climate and the closest permanent settlement is Warburton, located about 65 km northwest of L16-3. The well-maintained and unsealed Connie Sue and Ann Beadell Highways provide access to the area. Side roads and tracks extend into the release areas. The Trans-Australian Railway passes about 200 km to the south. The Goldfields Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline lies about 300 km west of the basin.

Modern petroleum exploration in the central Officer Basin started in 1962 with the Mabel Creek seismic survey, conducted by Exoil Pty Ltd along a single discontinuous line across the Birksgate Sub-basin and the Waigen area. During the 1980s, Shell Australia conducted a seismic survey in the Lennis area and drilled three wells in the Yowalga area. Algal-sourced oil show was found in Kanpa 1 and three potential source intervals were identified in the Browne Formation. Perth-based International Geoscience conducted a recent geophysical study across the Gibson area. They found that neotectonic movements are minor and severity of near-surface salt remobilization generally decreases with distance from the basin’s northern margin.

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.

Officer Basin prospectivity

The large, intracratonic Officer Basin is an asymmetrical half-graben trough with a maximum thickness of 10 000 m. Thirty-one wells have been drilled in the basin as of May 2014. The basin ranges in age from late Mesoproterozoic or Neoproterozoic to Devonian, with Carboniferous–Permian and Cretaceous cover, and developed contemporaneously with the Amadeus, Ngalia, Georgina and Warburton Basins, and the Adelaide Geosyncline. The Officer Basin is one of the last remaining onshore frontier exploration areas where large petroleum discoveries may still be made.

The Officer Basin has seen minimal exploration, with about 1 well/10 000 km2, compared to the Paleozoic basins of North America, with 500 wells/10 000 km2.

The basin is remote but accessible from a network of roads and tracks. Potential markets or delivery points include mining centres along the Goldfields Gas Transmission Pipeline, Alice Springs, and southern ports such as Esperance.

Location and size

The Officer Basin extends 1500 km southeastward from the southeastern flank of the Pilbara Craton and the Yilgarn Craton into South Australia, south of the Musgrave Province.

The basin covers about 486 000 km2, two-thirds of which (310 000 km2) lies in Western Australia.

Officer Basin Geological Map

Tectonic elements

The Officer Basin developed in the late Mesoproterozoic (1000 Ma) or early Neoproterozoic (850 Ma) as one of a series of intracratonic sags, collectively forming the Centralian Superbasin.

The basin is bounded to the north and northeast by the Musgrave and Rudall Provinces (older, igneous, metamorphic and metasedimentary terranes) and the Anketell–Warri Ridge and to the west by the Albany–Fraser Orogen, Yilgarn Craton, Capricorn Orogen, and Pilbara Craton.

Basin fill is predominantly Neoproterozoic, overlying older Proterozoic to Archean sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. The Officer Basin underlies Carboniferous–Permian glacigene rocks (now assigned to the Canning Basin) and Cretaceous rocks (Gunbarrel Basin). These influenced source rock maturity in Officer Basin petroleum systems.

To the south the Officer Basin thins beneath Cretaceous and Cenozoic rocks of the Bight and Eucla Basins.

Structural history

At least six tectonic episodes have affected the Officer Basin, from the early Neoproterozoic to the end of the Cretaceous. The basin structure is dominated by halotectonics, with major salt movement following pre-existing, reactivated Proterozoic sutures.

The recent Yilgarn–Officer–Musgrave deep crustal seismic line shows that diapirism extends farther west than previously known, and that the margin against the Musgrave Province is a normal fault in much of Western Australia, not a thrust as in South Australia.

Four distinct structural zones exist in the Western Australia portion of the basin: a marginal overthrust zone along the northeastern margin of the basin, adjacent to the Musgrave Complex; an adjoining salt-ruptured zone; a central thrusted zone; and a western shelf.

For all enquires please contact the Petroleum Division