Australia has granted seven new oil exploration permits off the coasts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia as part of round two of the 2011 exploration Acreage Release.

Tangiers Petroleum was awarded the NT/P83 permit in the Money Shoal Basin of the Arafura Sea, while Shell Development (Australia) won the WA-477-P permit off the coast of Broome, Western Australia.

Pathfinder Energy won the WA-479-P permit north-northeast of Port Hedland, while Repsol Exploration was awarded WA-480-P north of Dampier and Liberty Petroleum was granted the WA-482-P permit, extending across the north-eastern Exmouth Plateau and the Beagle Sub-Basin.

Meanwhile, Woodside Energy and Japan Australia LNG were awarded the WA-478-P permit offshore of the coast of Western Australia on the Exmouth Plateau and Murphy Australia, Oil Kufpec Australia and Samsung Oil & Gas Australia were granted the WA-481-P permit offshore of the northern Perth Basin.

It is expect that the permit holders will spend around $290m during the next three years on exploring these areas.

Australia Energy Security and Economic Growth minister Martin Ferguson AM MP said that the awards will help maintain Australia’s energy security and economic growth.

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"Exploration is vital for the future of Australia’s resources sector, and the Australian Government is committed to working with industry to enhance our international competitiveness and ensure the long-term growth of this important industry," Ferguson added.

"Australia has more than half of the world’s major LNG projects currently in construction and their completion could see Australia become the world’s largest LNG exporter.

"These new permits have the potential to increase project development opportunities and strengthen our energy security and export capacity."

Image: Oil companies are expected to invest $290m to explore areas off the coast of Western Australia and Northern Territory. Image courtesy of: Woodside Energy.