The Western Australian Government will introduce a strategic five-year release of petroleum exploration areas across the Canning and Perth Basins, which minimises environmental, cultural and land use constraints.

New maps revealed today highlight future acreage release areas that will open for competitive bidding rounds for oil and gas prospectors from 2018 to 2021.

The maps will also advise stakeholders of areas that are not available for Special Prospecting Authority with an Acreage Option applications.

Competitive bidding is encouraged and is the Department of Mines and Petroleum’s preferred mechanism for industry to acquire an exploration title for petroleum.

Acreage release schedules will be updated at least once a year and when significant amounts of new prospectivity data or acreage becomes available to warrant a review.

Industry is encouraged to nominate specific areas for acreage release, which will be considered the year it is nominated.

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WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the five-year approach provides greater transparency to the oil and gas industry, particularly targeting gas to improve energy security in the long term.

“A moratorium on fracking may limit prospectors’ interest in bidding, however the release doesn’t conflict with the Government’s policy, pending the findings of a scientific inquiry.

“There may be potential for gas development without the need for fracking,” Mr Johnston added.