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2017 Nominations

The annual Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release (acreage release) is a key part of the Australian Government's strategy to promote petroleum exploration in Australia’s offshore waters. It provides explorers with new opportunities to invest in Australia’s oil and gas sector and enables industry to undertake longer term planning to support the ongoing investment in, and development of, Australia’s offshore petroleum exploration industry.

The area nominations for the 2017 acreage release opened on 6 June 2016 and closed on Friday 12 August 2016.

This year, the department has introduced an online nomination form. On submission of your nomination, you will receive a reference number for each area nominated. If you do not receive a reference number within 24 hours, please email

Thank you to all those who submitted nominations for the 2017 acreage release. The nominations have now been assessed by the department and Geoscience Australia.

Consideration of nominations

Nomination of an area does not guarantee its inclusion in the acreage release.

Nominations are subject to a rigorous assessment and short-listing process undertaken by the department and Geoscience Australia. This takes into account factors such as:

  • Interests of other users of the marine environment such as fishing, maritime, tourism and Native Title.
  • Previous interest and exploration undertaken in the nominated area.
  • Commonwealth marine reserves.
  • Relevant international maritime boundaries.
  • Whether there is new data, a new geoscientific story or market development, such as domestic demand changes or an opportunity for early commercialisation of finds that might generate the interest of potential bidders.
  • Ongoing pre-competitive studies by Geoscience Australia – it is government practice to allow pre-competitive geoscientific data collection programs to conclude prior to the release of acreage.
  • Any matters deemed relevant by Commonwealth, state or territory governments.

This process is now complete.

Proposed release areas

There are 22 areas proposed for release as part of the 2017 acreage release. The proposed areas are now available in the December edition of the Australian Petroleum News andalso available for comment on the department’s consultation hub. Consultation closes on Tuesday 7 February 2017. The use of the department’s consultation website enables persons with a specific interest, in a specific area, to provide information that may be of use to potential explorers when applying for a release area or when undertaking exploration activities.

Maps and shapefiles of the proposed areas can be downloaded below.

Should an area nominated by a stakeholder be released as part of the final acreage release, there is no obligation on that stakeholder to place a bid on the area. Final areas may be gazetted as work program or cash bidding areas.

The proposed areas remain subject to change until officially launched by the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matt Canavan.

For further information please email