South Australia set for exploration boost

Big spending: the South Australian government forecasts A$3.5 billion will spent exploring the Cooper and Eromanga basin over the coming years

The South Australian government estimates roughly A$3.5 billion (US$3.3 billion) will be spent exploring the state's onshore Cooper and Eromanga basins over the next five-to-seven years.

Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis told delegates at the Australian Pipeline Industry Association's annual convention that figure did not include potential exploration expenditure in the state's offshore Otway and Bight basins.

“Exploration activity for oil and gas represents an enormous boon,” he said.

“We already have the infrastructure, the pathways to markets both here and interstate and the world's best regulatory environment – regulation that continues to give companies here the certainty they are being denied in other jurisdictions.”

He added that nearly all available ground was under exploitation licence of application for licence, which he said was close to double the available ground seven years ago.

Koutsantonis claimed that 33 wells were drilled in South Australia during 2012 but believed it was a “reasonable expectation” for drilling activity in the state to increase beyond 200 wells within the next five years.

“Across South Australia we see Santos, Beach Energy, Senex [Energy], Chevron, BP, Statoil, Northern Petroleum and others lining up to expand their business commitments in both onshore and offshore South Australia,” he explained.

“Billions of dollars are to be invested.”

The government's A$3.5 billion forecast built on the record A$386 million that was spent on exploring for oil and gas in the state during the recent Australian financial year, which ended 30 June.

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