Santos has secured approval from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) for its Dorado oil and gas development project in Western Australia.

The approval allows Santos to undertake the first phase of the Dorado liquids and gas development project in the Bedout Sub-basin, located in Commonwealth waters, approximately 140km offshore Port Hedland.

The initial phase of the project involves liquids development, with gas re-injection enhance resource recovery, while the second phase will see gas recovery and supply via a pipeline to the Western Australian domestic and liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets.

Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said the Dorado development opportunity is further enhanced by the recent discovery at the adjacent Pavo field.

Gallagher added: “Our focus now is to finalise the concept for an integrated liquids and gas development and obtain the remaining approvals required to support a final investment decision.

“Dorado will provide a welcome boost to Australia’s energy security while the potential subsequent gas development provides a future source of supply for Western Australia’s domestic market and LNG projects.”

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As per the estimates, the Dorado and Pavo fields hold gross 2C contingent resources of 189 million barrels of liquids and 401 petajoules of gas.

The Dorado project is expected to have liquid handling rates of 100,000 standard barrels per day and a gas reinjection capacity of 235 million standard cubic feet per day over a period of 20 years.

Santos owns an 80% stake in the Dorado project and a 70% interest in the Pavo field. The remaining stakes in the project are owned by Carnarvon Energy.