The Australian Government has released 29 acres for offshore petroleum exploration, highlighting the importance of the nation’s future energy sources.

Australian Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said nine basins in the commonwealth waters off Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania, and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands were released.

Exploration permits will allow companies an exclusive right to apply to search for oil and gas in these areas.

“The release of acreage is a critical step in maintaining Australia’s energy security,” said Ferguson. “The large areas are mostly located in frontier regions.”