Karoon gets exploration permit in Great Australian Bight

Karoon Gas Australia Ltd has been awarded an exploration permit in the Great Australian Bight, offshore South Australia.

The exploration permit EPP46 covers 17,793 square kilometers of the Ceduna Sub‐Basin, in the Great Australian Bight (‘GAB’), described by Karoon as “Australia’s most active and prospective frontier oil exploration province.”

“The GAB holds one of the world’s last underexplored Cretaceous basins, which contains the Ceduna Sub‐Basin. The Ceduna Sub‐Basin hosts a massive Cretaceous delta system which Karoon believes has the potential to be a globally significant hydrocarbon province with world class potential,“ Karoon said on Friday.

According to Karoon, only four wells have been drilled in the Ceduna Sub‐Basin, and with the exception of Gnarlyknots‐ 1/1A, all drilling was focused in the shallower, flanking depocentres in shallower waters near the basin margin. The deeper part of the GAB remains largely untested and is the main industry focus for the current exploration programs, the company said.

Pointing out to the industry interest in the area, Karoon said that the industry, including BP, Statoil and Chevron, has committed approximately A$1 billion to drilling 9 exploration wells in the surrounding permits during the next 24 months.

Worth noting, BP’s proposed plan has attracted the attention of the Australian Green Party and Greenpeace who claim that the program is a Deepwater Horizon-like disaster waiting to happen. BP’s drilling plan for the Great Australian Bight, proposing two wells. To remind, BP’s four well plan has been rejected by the regulator NOPSEMA, and the new two-well plan is pending approval.

As for Karoon and its new permit, the 3‐year firm commitment requires the acquisition of 2D and 3D seismic surveys and does not include a well.

“The geology, potential target size and surrounding significant near-term exploration activity make it a very exciting high-impact opportunity. Drilling success in the surrounding permits is expected to be transformational to prospectivity in Karoon’s Permit,” the company said.

Sensitive environment

The oil company has acknowledged that the Great Australian Bight is a pristine, environmentally sensitive area.

It said: “Karoon recognizes the GAB is a pristine wilderness and an iconic Australian coastline with significant environmental and commercial fishing sensitivities. The eastern portion of the Permit includes a Commonwealth marine reserve running through it. The marine reserve area doesn’t prohibit petroleum exploration, however these areas are subject to an even higher level of environmental scrutiny and require assessment.”

“Karoon takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and has a history of upholding high standards with respect to meeting its regulatory and social obligations with respect to these matters.   Karoon will be monitoring the progress of the current committed drilling programs and make an
assessment of the environmental risks following those campaigns prior to committing to any exploration drilling.”