Further resource potential of the Pilbara marked through new stratigraphic well

The Geological Survey of Western Australia is working with Geoscience Australia to conduct the drilling.
Date: Monday, 14 October 2019

A new stratigraphic well in Western Australia’s Canning Basin will help scope out exciting new resources in the region, paving the way for new investment and jobs, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said today.

The Waukarlycarly drill site in the South West Canning Basin was identified off the back of data from Australia’s largest onshore seismic line which highlighted two areas of the Basin – the Waukarlycarly Embayment and the Kidson Sub-basin – which showed new mineral, energy and groundwater potential.

“This well will provide the resources industry with greater certainty to explore in the region and create more jobs. The Waukarlycarly project is frontier science because the drill hole is well outside of areas previously explored in the region and will provide a much better understanding of the sub-surface geology of the area,” Mr Canavan said.

It’s estimated the basement will be reached at about 2200 metres once drilling is completed in late 2019, with results to be made publicly available in mid-2020.

The Canning Basin has great potential for both unconventional oil and gas.

Geoscience Australia has estimated there are potentially 43 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil in the Canning Basin. To put that figure into context, annual global production is 29 billion barrels. Additionally, there are recoverable shale gas resources of 390 trillion cubic feet with additional potential for tight gas resources of 48.5 trillion cubic feet.

“The Canning Basin in WA, the Beetaloo sub-Basin in the Northern Territory and the Isa Basin in Queensland along with a number of other areas, all have great potential to contribute to the development of Northern Australia and Australia’s future energy security,” Minister Canavan said. 

The Federal Government’s Exploring for the Future Program has provided $5 million in funding for this drilling project, with the Geological Survey of Western Australia managing the operations.

Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston said geoscientists from the Geological Survey of Western Australia at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety are working with Geoscience Australia to conduct the drilling.

“We are pleased to be working with the Federal Government to better understand these regions and provide tangible evidence that will help boost investment in Western Australia,” Mr Johnston said.

“This drilling operation illustrates the benefits and importance of State-Commonwealth collaborations to fund exploration and provide valuable scientific data.

“Access to data from this drill site, and the preceding seismic survey, improves exploration efficiency over a much broader area and can result in new projects that will create jobs for Western Australians.”

Minister Canavan said Australian Government investment into exploration in the resources sector is about building a stronger economy for all Australians.

“We’ve invested over $100 million into the Exploring for the Future program to ensure industry has world-class geoscience information and new understanding of available resources across Northern Australia,” Minister Canavan said.

“We’re committed to ensuring Australia retains its position as a leading and competitive destination for resources investment.”

Data from the previous Kidson Deep Crustal Seismic Reflection Survey is available for free download from the Exploring for the Future website www.ga.gov.au/eftf and the Western Australian Petroleum Information Management System database at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au.