NINE new permits have been awarded in the first round of the Australian Government’s 2013 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release, with Santos set to take stakes in two of them.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the permits, seven of which were offshore Western Australia, would see more than $372 million in exploration investment coming into Australia over the next six years.

“This demonstrates the importance of putting in place a policy framework to ensure Australia remains a strong and attractive investment destination,” he said.

“I look forward to working with the petroleum industry to maintain exploration investment in Australia.”

Santos and Inpex teamed up to win the licence for WA 502 P, released as W13-2, by committing to spend $80.6 million in a secondary work program, including drilling a well, after acquiring 496.9 kilometres of licence caswell mutliclient 3D seismic data over the permit area.

The other Santos permit win was WA 498 P, released as W13-10, located about 163 kilometres north of Karratha, awarded to Santos and JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration.

The companies committed to 8,000 hectares of 3D seismic reprocessing and a secondary work program including the drilling of an exploration well to a total cost of $28.3 million.

Murphy Australia Oil, teaming with Mitsui E&P Australia, won the AC/P57 permit – released as AC13-4, located offshore Western Australia in the Bonaparte basin.

The joint venture proposed a guaranteed work program of licencing 11,400 hectares of 3D seismic reprocessing, geological and geophysical interpretation of datasets, 33,500 hectares of 3D PTSM seismic reprocessing and AVO studies totalling $1.15 million.

The secondary work program consists of well planning, geological and geophysical interpretation of datasets, one exploration well and post well geotechnical studies totalling over $60.3 million.

Apache beat out five other bidders to win WA-499-P, released as W13-13, located about 160 kilometres north-northwest of Onslow, promising to acquire 89,000 hectares of new broadband 3D seismic data and PSDM processing, geotechnical studies, rock physics/quantitative interpretation and 3D seismic inversion studies and one exploration well totalling $20.4 million.

The secondary work program consists of 65,000 hectares of new broadband 3D seismic survey; PSDM processing and geotechnical studies totalling $6.4 million.

Other permit winners were AWE Australia, of WA 497 P – formerly W13-10; Finder No7, of WA 500 P – formerly W13-9; Carnarvon Petroleum, of WA 501 P – formerly W13-12 and Neon Energy, of WA 503 P – formerly W13-11.

Origin Energy won VIC/P69, formerly, V13-1, located offshore Victoria in the Otway basin, by committing to spend $16.55 million on new seismic data acquisition and $31.9 million on a secondary work program.