THE Australian Government has come to the aid of offshore oil and gas explorers with new measures introduced to provide flexibility and greater assistance during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, said the support measures are part of agreements reached by COAG resources ministers.

He said greater flexibility will be available to explorers in an effort to assist the sector to manage and plan through the current COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure ongoing, future investment.

The measures provide for a simplified application process to suspend and extend existing work programs, as well as further flexibility to be applied to well expectations in the renewal of exploration permits.

Minister Pitt said exploration will be key to recovery in the sector post-pandemic.

He said the 2020 offshore petroleum acreage release will proceed as planned with some key adjustments, including an increased consultation period on nominated areas and an alternative to the public launch event later this year.

“The offshore petroleum industry in Australia faces challenging times in the current environment,” Minister Pitt said.

“It is critical that explorers are offered greater flexibility as they are key to ensuring Australia’s energy security into the future.

“The Australian Government is committed to working with the oil and gas industry in order to provide support and flexibility given the changing circumstances at this time.”

Guidance on the new measure is available on the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator’s (NOPTA) website at www.nopta.gov.au.