Increased exploration and development activity to fuel Queensland’s three exporting LNG plants – Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG), Santos GLNG and Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) – along with improved pipeline connections between natural gas resources and their markets, have resulted in a fundamental shift to market demand for gas.
As a result of this shift, exploration for hydrocarbons in unconventional reservoirs, such as shale and tight gas, alongside conventional gas resources, are continuing to be an important onshore exploration target for Australia’s gas industry.
Geoscience Australia has stated that key opportunities for onshore exploration include:
- Cooper Basin (Queensland/South Australia)
- Canning Basin (Western Australia)
- Georgina Basin (Northern Territory)
- McArthur Basin (Northern Territory)
The Cooper Basin is presently Australia’s largest onshore conventional gas and oil producer, and it has seen a strong revival in unconventional exploration targeting Permian plays in recent years.
Key players in the basin include Santos, Origin Energy, Beach Energy, Drillsearch and Senex Energy, supplying markets in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland from over 160 gas fields situated in the basin.
Meanwhile, the NT’s McArthur Basin, flagged as Australia’s answer to the shale gas boom in the United States, has so far seen limited exploration, due largely to its remote location and limited infrastructure.
However, the likes of Santos, Origin and INPEX have shown interest in the basin, while the Northern Gas Pipeline, linking the NT to the east coast gas market, is likely to attract further investors.
According to the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Energy Council Gas Supply Strategy, over 40 per cent of the gas which flows to consumers in the eastern market comes from CSG, with 98 per cent of this CSG coming from Queensland.