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ABSTRACT: Southern Bonaparte Basin Revisited: The dawn of a new era of Australian exploration

Vear, Alwyn and Menno Deruig , Woodside Energy Ltd, Perth, Australia

Petroleum was first encountered in the Southern Bonaparte Basin in 1839, when HMS Beagle's crew dug for fresh water in the Victoria River, and encountered bitumen. The first live petroleum was found almost 125 years later in 1963, when the Bonaparte-2 well flowed gas at 1.5 MMscfd. In 1969 the search moved offshore, and the Petrel and Tern gas accumulations were found. Nearer to shore, smaller quantities of oil were discovered in the late 1980's, at Turtle and Barnett. And more recently, onshore success has again been achieved at Weaber-2 (1982, gas), Waggon Creek-1 (1996, oil) and Vienta-1 (1998, gas). To date, however, none of these exploration successes have resulted in commercial petroleum production.

Despite this lack of economic success, the basin clearly contains several working petroleum systems. In an attempt to unlock the basin's true potential, Woodside Energy Ltd. and Shell Development (Australia) Pty. Ltd are now aggressively exploring three offshore permits; WA-279-P, WA-280-P and NT/P57.

This presentation first describes the geology and petroleum systems of the Southern Bonaparte Basin. It then focuses on the technology-driven exploration programme, which will reduce key risks and uncertainties, and deliver two drilling locations in 2001. By so doing, it will set the scene for a new, and hopefully successful, era of exploration in the basin.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90913©2000 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Bali, Indonesia