NEON Energy has been awarded an exploration permit offshore Western Australia, in the Dampier Sub-basin, in the latest release of blocks from the 2013 Australian Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Gazettal.

The block will be the first offshore Australia to be operated by Neon Energy, which though listed and based in Australia has operations offshore California, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Neon managing director Ken Charsinsky said the decision to acquire an Australian exploration permit was the result of company expansion plans which began in mid-2013.

“We look forward to exploring this exciting new block, and to bringing additional quality assets to Neon’s portfolio in due course,” he said.

Known as W13-11 in the block auction, the petroleum exploration permit now known as WA 503 P is located in the vicinity of the Legendre, Sage and Hurricane oilfields, inboard of the giant Northwest Shelf gas field complex.

Two wells have been drilled within WA-503-P to date, the Janus-1 well – which discovered a 4 metre oil column, and the Hoss-1 well to the block’s northeast, which Neon said also encountered encouraging oil shows.

Water depths within the block range from 50 metres to 70 metres, within the depth capability of jack up drilling rigs.

The company said its primary exploration focus in the permit would be the hydrocarbon Neon lights on Australian field potential of the Lower Cretaceous to Upper Jurassic basin margin fan deposits within the oil rich Legendre Trend, situated along the eastern flank of the Lewis Trough.

Neon said it had identified four exploration leads based on existing 3D seismic data, the largest of which has potential for over 100 million barrels of oil in place within a series of stacked sandstone reservoirs.

“Neon Energy is confident that the application of new technology – in particular ‘Broadband’ 3D seismic – will generate renewed exploration interest in the area,” it said.

The block has been awarded with a six year term, with the first three years to include a work commitment to licence 8,000 hectares of broadband 3D seismic data and complete various geological and geophysical studies.

With the seismic data due to be acquired by 2015, the secondary term is optional and includes an associated commitment to drill one exploration well.