Chevron has secured the rights to explore an area in offshore Western Australia for six years by paying A$3m ($2.3m) through a cash bid. 

The exploration rights were awarded as a part of the Australian Government’s programme to release offshore areas for future oil and gas exploration to maximise taxpayer returns from developing these resources.

The cash-bid auction for the 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release was held on 2 February and Chevron Australia New Ventures was awarded the Exploration Permit WA-526-P.

Australian Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Senator Matt Canavan said that this cash bid permit was the first to be awarded after the process was re-launched in 2014.

Canavan said: “The new permit is in a gas-rich part of the Northern Carnarvon Basin very close to the Gorgon Gas project and Pluto LNG, offshore of Western Australia between Onslow and Dampier.

“The awarding of this permit is an important milestone and shows that Australia remains an attractive petroleum exploration investment destination.

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"The new permit is in a gas-rich part of the Northern Carnarvon Basin very close to the Gorgon Gas project and Pluto LNG."

“The acreage release process, where petroleum companies are awarded offshore areas for exploration based on the quality and thoroughness of their proposed work plans, has long underpinned successful exploration in Australia.

“However, the 2014 introduction of the cash-bidding system to allocate offshore petroleum exploration permits in mature areas or areas known to contain petroleum accumulations has provided an extra option for industry and immediate returns to the Australian people.”

An effective system of permit allocation, cash bidding encourages operations in areas where minimal further exploration may be required.

The ministry stated that the remaining cash bid areas W16-22 and W16-25 did not receive any bids, which were reverted to vacant acreage. 

The final round of 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release will close on 23 March this year.