South West petroleum exploration permit expires

The DMP has no immediate plans to open an expired exploration title for competitive bidding
Date: Friday, 11 November 2016

A petroleum exploration title located south of Whicher Range in the State’s South West region has expired after no application for renewal being made to the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).

The registered holder was legislatively entitled to apply for a renewal of the petroleum exploration permit, EP 381 R3 granted to Whicher Range Energy Pty Ltd (WRE) in 2011, before the expiry date of 6 November 2016.

DMP Acting Executive Director Petroleum Denis Wills said the department had no immediate plans to offer the area for acreage release competitive bidding.

“The original title was granted in 1993 and has been renewed three times. Historically there has been petroleum exploration within the permit area, including 2D seismic surveys, airborne surveys and three wells dating back to 1966, but no gas resources have been identified.” Mr Wills said.

“Two years ago there were some suggestions that the Whicher Range field could extend further south from the neighbouring petroleum exploration permit EP 408 into the EP 381 permit area, potentially providing additional petroleum reserves. Further analysis would be required to see it that was still a possibility”.

Generally exploration permits have six year first terms which are followed by five year renewal options. This would have been the fourth renewal for EP 381 since it was granted.

Mr Wills said applications for Special Prospecting Authority (SPA), with or without Acreage Option (SPA-AO) made by industry for this acreage would be closely scrutinised especially as there would seem to be insufficient evidence to support further exploration at this stage.

Historically 21 petroleum and stratigraphic wells have been drilled in the South West since 1965, several of which were also stimulated including hydraulic fracture stimulation.

More recent independent studies, conducted by scientists from University of WA, Curtin University and CSIRO, have shown that the local geology is not suited to the use of hydraulic fracture stimulation.

The Western Australian Energy Alliance (WA:ERA) Report 112 – Whicher Range Tight Gas Sands Study 2012 report, identified that the target sands in this area are not suitable for the hydraulic fracture stimulation and, in fact, introducing water or water based fluids would actually inhibit the extraction of any gas.