Gorgon operator Chevron has placed the winning cash bid for an offshore block close to its major offshore Western Australia gas discoveries.

The company paid $3 million for the cash bid permit to secure the right to explore the area for the next six years.

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Senator Matt Canavan said this was the first cash bid permit to be awarded since the process was re-introduced in 2014.

“The new permit is in a gas-rich part of the Northern Carnarvon Basin very close to the Gorgon Gas project and Pluto LNG, offshore of Western Australia between Onslow and Dampier,” Minister Canavan said.

“The awarding of this permit is an important milestone and shows that Australia remains an attractive petroleum exploration investment destination.

“The acreage release process, where petroleum companies are awarded offshore areas for exploration based on the quality and thoroughness of their proposed work plans, has long underpinned successful exploration in Australia.

“However the 2014 introduction of the cash-bidding system to allocate offshore petroleum exploration permits in mature areas or areas known to contain petroleum accumulations has provided an extra option for industry and immediate returns to the Australian people.”

The cash-bid auction for the 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release was held on 2 February 2017. Two companies prequalified for the auction. At the close of the auction one bid was received for release area W16-17.

As a result, Exploration Permit, now known as WA-526-P, was awarded to Chevron Australia New Ventures Pty Ltd.

The remaining cash bid areas, W16-22 and W16-25, did not receive bids and have reverted to vacant acreage.

The final round of the 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release will close on 23 March 2017