By Ross Verne

THE SIX-MONTH invitation period to acquire onshore exploration permits for the Canning and Perth basins closed on 23 October, but the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) is unable to reveal if any bids were made.

The Canning basin was described by the US Energy Information Agency in 2013 as having the largest shale gas potential in Australia and was described by the DMP as “the least-explored Paleozoic basin in the world”.

Four Canning basin release areas (L-12-12, L-12-13, L14-1 and L-14-2) were offered, with prospects varying from oil in Lower Permian sandstones, to sub-salt and supra-salt targets for oil and gas, and Ordovician-sourced conventional hydrocarbons and shale gas.

If any bids have been accepted by the DMP, the company has 14 days to formally accept and agree to begin land access negotiations.

DMP documents say the one Perth basin block offered (L-12-14), in the Bunbury Trough, contains a thick and mature succession of Permian coal measures and intervening sandstone units with widespread shows at various statigraphic levels indicating an active Permian petroleum system.

The Bunbury Trough acreage on offer was previously put out to tender in 2012 but attracted no bids.

In 2011 Buru Energy made the first significant oil discovery in the Canning basin since the 1980s and in the same year discovered gas at their Valhalla prospect.

Mitsubishi, ConocoPhillips, Hess, PetroChina and Apache are also currently participating in Canning Basin exploration.

The Canning basin is located in central northern Western Australia, approximately 1500 kilometres northeast of Perth, while the Bunbury Trough is about 170 kilometres south of Perth.