New Acreage Releases


Acreage becomes available for application for a Exploration Licence (Geothermal (GEL) or Petroleum (PEL)) by:

  • available acreage for a regulated resource where no licence currently exists for such regulated resource
  • relinquished area on renewal
  • surrender
  • cancellation

An application for an Exploration Licence can be lodged at any time over any area of the state, which is not in a highly prospective region. Applications for highly prospective regions require the Minister to call for tenders nominating a specific closing date. A 6-month lead-time usually applies. More than one Exploration Licence or Production Licence can be granted over the same area provided the rights to explore for or produce a particular regulated resource for each licence differs. Some areas are alienated from exploration operations (eg some protected areas under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972). An application should be made in accordance with legislative requirements and be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

The Minister retains the discretion to reject any application that is inadequate in the context of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000. The Exploration Licence is then awarded to the applicant judged to have bid the best work program. Other areas may from time to time be similarly promoted after the Department of State Development has undertaken new work which has improved the prospectivity of the area.

The compulsory relinquishment is 50% of the original area for highly prospective regions, and 33% for less prospective basins and occurs upon renewal of the 5 year term of the licence. An exploration licence granted as a Petroleum Exploration Licence under the repealed Petroleum Act 1940 or an application for an Exploration Licence before 1 March 1999 will upon renewal be subject to a compulsory relinquishment of a minimum 25% of the original licence area.


Vacant offshore areas are open to permit application only after gazettal by the Federal Government and/or State Government as appropriate. Only one offshore permit can be granted over the same or overlapping areas.