Understanding geothermal titles

Geothermal Titles cover exploration and development, with development titles evolving from exploration.  Applicants propose a program of exploration work for an area and, if that applicant is successful (on the basis of the work proposed and the ability to undertake the work), a permit is awarded. The various titles are as below.

Geothermal Exploration Permits

These permits authorise the holder to explore for geothermal energy and to carry on necessary operations and works. Provided the conditions of the permit are fulfilled, the holder has the right to renew the permit on a reduced area basis. When a permit is granted, the holder is obliged to fulfil the promised work program in a timely manner - maintaining best practice health, safety and environmental standards.

Geothermal Drilling Reservations

Geothermal Drilling Reservations allow geothermal energy drilling and related operations and works. While the term of these Reservations may be up to three years (at the discretion of the Minister for Mines and Petroleum), holders may extend the term by a further year to accommodate further drilling and, as with permits, are obliged to drill the commitment well(s) in accordance with industry best practice.

Geothermal Special Prospecting Authorities

Geothermal Special Prospecting Authorities allow limited prospecting for geothermal energy but do not authorise the drilling of a well. Geothermal Special Prospecting Authorities are granted subject to conditions, which control the extent of work, and are for a maximum of six months.

Geothermal Access Authorities

Geothermal Access Authorities allow the holder of a permit, drilling reservation, lease or licence to conduct exploration activities outside their areas. This includes the drilling of deviated wells. As with Geothermal Special Prospecting Authorities, Geothermal Access Authorities are controlled by conditions and  limited in time to the operation necessitating the access.

It should be noted that the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 does not apply to operations for the recovery of geothermal energy that:

  • are carried out for the purposes of a small-scale ground source heat pump used at or near the source of the geothermal energy
  • involve small scale recovery of a non-commercial kind.

Declaration of Location

Upon discovery of a geothermal energy resource,  Geothermal Exploration Permit or Geothermal Drilling Reservation holders must notify and provide discovery details to the Department of Mines and Petroleum. Before applying for a Retention Lease or Production Licence, holders must identify the block or blocks covering the discovery area.

Where a Declaration of Location is made over a discovery, permit holders may undertake further exploration and/or appraisal activities within the location to determine more accurately the nature of the discovery. Holders have two years after the Declaration of Location in which to apply for either a Retention Lease or Production Licence. This period may be extended for a further two years at the discretion of the Minister for Mines and Petroleum.

Registered holder's obligations

Title Term Area Rights Obligations
A summary of the obligations and conditions of each licence type under State legislation is provided here.

Geothermal Exploration Permit (GEP)

These Titles have similar Terms, Areas, Rights and Obligations to those of Petroleum Titles and can coexist with Petroleum Titles

Geothermal Drilling Reservation (GDR)