Areas are available for application for a Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL), Geothermal Exploration Licence (GEL) or Gas Storage Exploration Licence (GSEL) where no licence currently exists for the relevant regulated resource.

An application for an Exploration Licence can be lodged at any time over any area of the state, which is not in a Competitive Tender Region. Applications for Competitive Tender Regions require the Minister to call for tenders nominating a specific closing date. A six-month lead-time usually applies.

As of 10 November 2022, there are five Competitive Tender Regions within South Australia; the Arckaringa, Arrowie, Cooper, Otway and Polda Basins . These Competitive Tender Regions apply to all three categories of exploration licences under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000; petroleum, geothermal and gas storage.

Nominations for acreage release areas in South Australian Competitive Tender Regions are required for new acreage releases in Competitive Tender Regions and should demonstrate a genuine intent to start activities should the release go ahead. Nominations may be made by either explorers or service companies. It is expected that exploration companies nominating areas would bid in the resultant acreage release and service companies should have recent non-exclusive data products over the nominated area available during the bidding round. There are no limits to the number of nominations a company can submit, however non-contiguous areas require separate nominations.

You must provide reasons for nominating an area. This is crucial in frontier areas with limited infrastructure or where Native Title exists. A nomination by an exploration company must include:

  • company contact details;
  • a description of the area; and
  • the geological basis for the nomination

In addition to the above, a nomination by a service company must also include:

  • details of the relevant Speculative Survey  Licence(s) over the area; and
  • details of non-exclusive data products including data type and delivery timeframe.

The Minister for Energy and Mining will consider and must endorse release areas before they can progress to an acreage release and bidding round. The government will consider their priorities when deciding to release acreage in an area including the following factors:

  • environmental regulations;
  • commercial interests;
  • proximity to markets and supporting infrastructure;
  • landowners;
  • other licence operators;
  • national security; and
  • the strategic priorities of the State Government.

Note that nominated areas, or parts of areas, may be excluded for various reasons including:

  • national security;
  • land access issues (e.g. if the nominated area includes no access parks); and
  • where precompetitive open-file studies of the geology or other features of the area are being undertaken.

Nominations for acreage release areas should be made to

More than one Exploration Licence or Production Licence can be granted over the same area provided the rights to explore for or produce a particular regulated resource for each licence differs. Some areas are alienated from exploration and production operations (e.g. some protected areas under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972). An application should be made in accordance with legislative requirements and be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

The Minister retains the discretion to reject any application that is inadequate in the context of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000. The Exploration Licence is then awarded to the applicant judged to have bid the best work program provided the application is adequate in the context of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000. Other areas may from time to time be similarly promoted after the Department for Energy and Mining has undertaken new work which has improved the prospectivity of the area.

The compulsory relinquishment for an exploration licence is either 331/3% or 50% (as determined by the Minister) of the original licence area and occurs upon renewal of the 5 year term of the licence. An exploration licence granted as a Petroleum Exploration Licence under the repealed Petroleum Act 1940 or an application for an Exploration Licence before 1 March 1999 will upon renewal be subject to a compulsory relinquishment of a minimum 25% of the original licence area.

The Earth Resources Information Sheet P1 (PDF 3.52 MB)
Provides details of Holders of Petroleum and Geothermal licences in South Australia

Further information on acreage releases and the bid assessment process is available here: Selecting the winning bid. You can also view previous acreage releases.

For more information, contact: