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Australia approves 46,758 square km for offshore exploration

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Picture of Meenal Datar

Meenal Datar

Membership specialist

The Australian federal government has given the gas and oil industry the green light to explore new offshore sites, spanning 46,758km2 of Commonwealth waters. 10 new sites off the coasts of the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and the Ashmore and Cartier Islands have been opened up for exploration.

‘The annual release of areas for offshore petroleum exploration supports ongoing investment in the nation’s petroleum sector, which is vital for the economy and meeting the energy needs of Australians,’ says Resources Minister, Madeleine King. ‘At the same time as we strive to reduce emissions it must be emphasised that continued exploration for oil and gas in Commonwealth waters is central to alleviating future domestic gas shortfalls.’

The announcement comes along with new greenhouse gas storage permits to allow Woodside Energy and Inpex to continue with offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. ‘I want to see the industry convert its ambition for CCS into reality, I want industry to convert its talk about CCS into action,’ says Minister King. ‘Getting CCS right is important for the entire globe to reach net-zero emissions.’

Minister King said the approval for offshore greenhouse gas storage in the Bonaparte Gulf, near Darwin, would help drive plans for a Darwin CCS hub. Bill Townsend, VP of corporate for Inpex, says ‘One of the ways we’re seeking to reduce the carbon footprint of our Ichthys LNG [project in Darwin] is through CCS. What we’re proposing to do is capture CO2 and pipe it about 270km from Darwin and inject it back into the ground from whence it came.’

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