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Last Updated: May 16, 2017
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The Australian Government’s annual Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release (acreage release) is a key part of the Australian Government's strategy to promote petroleum exploration in Australia’s offshore waters. The acreage release provides explorers with new offshore areas the government has made available for either work program or cash bidding. It enables industry to undertake longer term planning to support the ongoing investment in, and development of, Australia’s offshore petroleum exploration industry.

The acreage release is underpinned by Australia's stable economic environment and well-established, objective-based regulatory framework that seeks to balance environmental, social and economic considerations in the development of Australia’s natural resources.

All release areas have been nominated by industry, assessed and considered by governments and selected to offer the petroleum exploration industry a variety of investment opportunities. The acreage release provides the petroleum industry with access to comprehensive pre-competitive geological and geophysical datasets and ensures the provision of quality information on third party issues that may impact on successful applicants when conducting exploration work programs.

The 2017 acreage release comprises 21 areas located across eight sedimentary basins in Commonwealth waters offshore of Northern Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, 20 areas are available for work program bidding and one area for cash bidding. The areas are located in water depths of 25 to 4,200 metres and vary in size from 161 to 2,465 km² and also vary in level of existing geological knowledge. All areas are supported by pre-competitive geological and geophysical data and analysis undertaken by Geoscience Australia. Coinciding with the 2017 acreage, is the release of NOPIMS 2017 by Geoscience Australia. NOPIMS is an online data discovery and delivery system for all Australian offshore petroleum wells and seismic surveys acquired in Commonwealth waters.

Further information on the release areas and the basins of interest, is available by following the links in the menu on the left hand side.

Overview map of the 2017 release areas

Overview of 2017 Release Areas

2017 release areas and closing rounds

Release areas
Closing date for bids
Cash bid prequalification
Thursday 5 October 2017
Round One - work program
AC17-2, AC17-3, NT17-1, T17-1, T17-2, V17-1, V17-2, V17-3, W17-4, W17-5, W17-8
Thursday 19 October 2017
Cash bid auction*
Thursday 8 February 2018
Round Two - work program
AC17-4, AC17-5, NT17-2, W17-1, W17-2, W17-3, W17-7, W17-9, W17-10
Thursday 22 March 2018

*Only prequalified applicants will be invited to submit a cash bid

2016 re-release areas and closing rounds

The following areas from round 2 of the 2016 acreage release have been re-released with bids closing on Thursday 19 Ocotber 2017.

General and Special Notices

The General and Special Notices provide comprehensive information on third party considerations including environment protection, native title rights and interests, navigation and maritime safety, fishing, defence, submarine telecommunication cables, international issues and insurance.

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