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Western Australia upstream spending to rise as Equinor joins Carnarvon Basin exploration

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Equinor, the Norwegian energy company and LNG plant operator said it was awarded exploration acreage in the Northern Carnarvon Basin offshore Western Australia as upstream activities continue to expand.

Equinor has been granted the new exploration permit, WA-542-P, and is the operator and 100 percent owner.

“We are pleased with this award which expands our position in Australia with an exploration opportunity in a proven basin,” says Paul McCafferty, Equinor’s senior vice president for international offshore exploration.

WA-542-P is located west of the recent Dorado oil discovery. The block covers 4,815 square kilometres and lies about 100 kilometers from the Australian coast. The water depth ranges from 80 metres to 350m.

Equinor has operated the Hammerfest LNG plant exporting to Europe from Northern Europe since 2007 and its overseas interests include the Block 2 licence offshore Tanzania in East Africa with LNG project potential.

Australian energy company and LNG market participant Santos confirmed major Northern Carnarvon Basin oil and gas resources in June 2019 from well tests on its Dorado-2 appraisal well in the Bedout Basin.

It said Dorado opened a new basin with high prospectivity in permits where Santos has a high equity position and rich exploration inventory with potential to substantially grow its resource base.

The Dorado-2 well is located in petroleum permit WA-437-P, about 160 kilometres north of Port Hedland and two kilometres away from the Dorado-1 discovery made in July 2018.

The town of Port Hedland is 230km north of the major Western Australian LNG export terminal at Karratha, operated by Woodside Petroleum.

Santos has an 80 percent share in the permit and Carnarvon Petroleum owns 20 percent.

“An interesting new liquids play has emerged in this part of Australia’s northwest shelf and we are looking forward to assessing the potential in our new permit,” said Equinor’s McCafferty.

The work programme for the Equinor block includes geological and geophysical studies, reprocessing of seismic data and new 3D seismic acquisition.

Equinor established an office in Australia in 2012 and is the operator for EPP39 and EPP40 in the Ceduna Basin offshore South Australia.