Australian oil and gas company Santos has signed agreements with Australian oil and gas exploration and production company Beach Energy over four exploration permits in the Bonaparte Basin, offshore Northern Australia.

The transaction will see the companies become joint partners across the NT/P82, NT/P85, NT/P84 and WA-454-P permits. Santos and Beach Energy will both have a 50% stake in these permits, with Santos operating all four permits.

The NT/P82 and NT/P85 permits are located to the south of the Barossa project area. Santos acquired the 4,347km2 Bethany 3D seismic survey for this area in 2018.

The NT/P84 and WA-454-P permits are located near the Petrel/Tern/Frigate complex in the Petrel sub-basin. Separate agreements with oil and gas exploration and production company Neptune Energy will see Santos gain a 40.25% interest in the Petrel field and a 100% operated interest in the Tern and Frigate fields.

Santos already has a 25% interest in the Barossa field and an 11.5% interest in the Bayu-Undan gas-condensate field, which includes the Darwin liquid natural gas (LNG) plant, in the Bonaparte Basin.

Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said: “This alignment of equity and operatorship will allow for a more strategic approach to the next phase of exploration in the region.

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“It also reinforces Santos’ significant exploration and existing substantial resource position in offshore Northern Australia and is a good example of industry collaboration aimed at doing things smarter.

“We continue to chase material resource opportunities offshore Northern Australia to support our established infrastructure position at Darwin, with an eye to both export and domestic markets. The next step for these permits is to evaluate new and existing seismic data to build inventory and define potential targets for drilling within the next few years. Permits NT/P82 and NT/P85, which are located immediately south of our Barossa project, will be a key focus for this work.”