Looking at the future, the petroleum potential of the state is considered to be at least as significant as discoveries made to date, particularly in the light of new unconventional gas plays in the Cooper Basin, with potential elsewhere in the State. New entrant explorers in the Cooper and Eromanga basins have sustained world-class oil success rates and areas of those basins remain under explored. The Cooper Basin has potential unconventional gas plays including shale gas and deep coal seam gas, continuous gas plays in the Nappamerri Trough and significant production has already occurred from tight gas reservoirs. Moomba 191 is the first commercial unconventional gas well in the country, production commenced in October 2012.
The offshore Otway and Bight basins and the onshore Officer Basin are considered to have potential for giant new petroleum field discoveries and are under explored. The onshore shales gas plays, oil shale plays and the Late Cretaceous oil play in the Otway Basin and a number of frontier Cambrian and older basins remain under explored.
To fully capture the gas resource potential in South Australia, in 2010 DSD and the former Department of Transport Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI, now the Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, DPTI) established a roundtable (interest group) with industry to assess the adequacy (or otherwise) of supply chain infrastructure and technologies necessary to support unconventional gas prospects. Peak industry representative bodies, holders of South Australian petroleum and coal licences and infrastructure enterprises, government departments from both the states and the Commonwealth, and other stakeholder organisations have been invited to participate in this roundtable.
The objective of the roundtable is to inform industry strategies and government policies to underpin optimum (upstream-downstream) life-cycle planning for the deployment of capital, technologies and infrastructure for exporting unconventional petroleum gas and liquids.
Following initial meetings of the Roundtable a Roadmap for Unconventional Projects in South Australia was drafted and went through extensive reviews by the roundtable prior to its release. The 125 recommendations were ranked according to their importance and ease of implementation. The Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects in South Australia was released on 12 December 2012. Use this link to view the publication.
A review of the gas storage potential of SA basins was carried out in conjunction with Geoscience Australia in 2008–09. A decade ago, the Petroleum Act 2000 provided a legislative framework for Greenhouse Gas storage licences. The new Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 opened the State for ‘over-the-counter’ Gas Storage Exploration Licences, while preserving storage entitlements in pre-existing petroleum licences. No royalties are levied for gas stored as an incentive for CO2 geosequestration projects in South Australia.
The geothermal potential of South Australia is being actively explored and developed. Geothermal licences and applications cover a diversity of geological provinces so a range of potential new energy sources and exploration models are being targeted and tested. If South Australia’s geothermal energy potential is successfully realised, the state will become a world leader in providing emission-free and sustainable energy, as well as a hot bed for the development of associated technologies and processes.