US oil company claims Australia’s biggest oil discovery in three decades

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Image credit: flickr User: Morgan Davies

US oil and gas exploration company Apache Corp. said an exploration well in the offshore Canning Basin has resulted in potentially Australia’s largest oil discovery in the last 30 years, reports Mining.com.

Image credit: flickr User: Morgan Davies
Image credit: flickr User: Morgan Davies

The field found by the Phoenix South-1 well is estimated to hold approximately 300 million barrels of crude oil, fuelling hopes of a new oil province located off the north-west coast, even though analysts say that only a portion of that volume would be recoverable.

“The oil and reservoir quality we have seen point to a commercial discovery,” Thomas Voytovich, a senior executive at Apache’s international arm told The Australian.

“If these results are borne out by further appraisal drilling, Phoenix South may represent a new oil province for Australia.”

Carnarvon CEO Adrian Cook told ABC Radio the well is located in an area that has remained untouched for almost 20 years, as several international energy companies abandoned exploration decades earlier after wells turned up dry.

“It’s actually a new oil province, outside of the Carnarvon Basin proper,” he told ABC.

“It’s very lightly explored. It’s a very large area. In fact, we have some 20,000 square kilometres of acreage holding here,” he added.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Apache immediately committed to drilling a second well, in an adjacent permit, while also exercising an option to take up 40% of two other nearby permits.

Mr Cook described the Phoenix South find as “one of the most significant developments in Australian oil and gas in recent times”, but warned against jumping to premature conclusions as to the magnitude of the new find.

“We need more time to interpret the science,” Mr Cook said.

“We’re all excited but appreciate there’s some ways to go. We have to be careful. It’s very easy to let enthusiasm get away from the facts.”

Apache, which is currently considering selling its Australian assets, said it would continue to drill more wells with its partners Carnarvon Petroleum, Finder Exploration and JX Nippon.