Santos' next big exploration drive in the Bedout sub-basin offshore Western Australia will start in early 2022 as the operator drills for new discoveries near the Dorado oilfield.

Santos is targeting a final investment decision on the large Dorado project in mid-2022, and is wasting no time drilling for nearby resources.

The Pavo-1 and Apus-1 wells are scheduled to begin drilling in early 2022, said co-venturer Carnarvon Petroleum.

"A discovery at these locations would provide enhanced economic outcomes and shorter development timeframes if tied back to the Dorado facility (FPSO), which is being designed for future exploration success," said Carnarvon.