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BP Australia’s exploration focus today centres on the Carnarvon basin, offshore Western Australia. This prolific gas basin is home to some of the world’s major LNG developments, including the North West Shelf (NWS) joint venture (JV) in which BP has participated since its inception in the 1970s

The first priority of our exploration team in Perth is to work closely with the NWS JV operator (Woodside) and the partners to identify and drill for additional gas resources to supply the LNG processing facilities. Our second priority is to explore for large scale gas resources outside the NWS JV permits but within tie-back distance.

 When the existing NWS JV fields come off plateau, there will be capacity in the processing facilities for such resources. For this reason, BP has accessed two exploration permits 50km to the north of the NWS JV acreage; these are WA-525-P (BP 100 per cent and operator), and WA-409-P (BP 80 per cent and operator).


Ironbark: acreage WA-359-P

As part of a joint venture between BP (42.5%), Cue (21.5%), Beach (21%) and NZOG (15%), BP will be drilling an exploratory well  in the Carnarvon Basin. This activity will only take place in Commonwealth waters and will be regulated by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulation 2012. In accordance with the legislation, an environment plan was submitted for public comment to the Commonwealth regulator National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).


Regulatory framework

Prior to any petroleum-related activities in Commonwealth waters commencing, an environment plan must be accepted by NOPSEMA.


An environment plan for the small scale geo-technical and geo-physical survey was submitted to NOPSEMA in March 2019 and accepted in June 2019. An environment plan of the exploratory drilling was submitted to NOPSEMA in December 2019.


Exploration drilling consultation

To meet the work program obligations under the title, we are required to drill a single exploration well within WA‐359‐P.  As part of the consultation process, we publicly invited interested parties to comment on our environment plan [PDF 8.3MB].  You can also read an overview of our proposed activity in the Carnarvon Basin.


For updates on any future developments, please register your details.  For specific enquiries, please email ironbarkinfo@bp.com

Ironbark location

Planned activities in the Carnarvon Basin

As part of the joint operating agreement covering exploration permit WA-359-P, BP is the titleholder nominated to undertake eligible voluntary actions on behalf of all titleholders and is also the operator. To meet the work program obligations under the title, the titleholders are required to drill a single exploration well within WA-359-P.  The Ironbark exploration drilling program is planned in permit WA-359-P, located in Commonwealth waters approximately 170 km offshore from Karratha.


Indicative coordinates and water depths for the Ironbark-1 exploration well are:

Planned well Longitude (E) Latitude (S) Approximate water depth

116° 04' 35.80

19° 09' 34.01"

~300 m

The Ironbark exploration drilling program comprises the drilling, evaluation and plugging and abandonment of one exploration well. The well is proposed to be drilled by a MODU.  The MODU will be supported by two or three dynamically positioned vessels including anchor handling, tow and support vessels.


Drilling activities are planned to commence in Q3 of 2020, although depending on MODU availability may commence between Q2 of 2020 and Q2 2021.  Drilling activities are expected to take approximately 90 to 100 days, excluding weather and operational delays. Drilling and support activities will typically be conducted on a 24-hour basis.


Completed activities in the Carnarvon Basin

We have completed a small-scale geo-technical and geo-physical survey as an initial activity to support the investigation of the Ironbark exploration prospect, a potential gas/condensate field in block WA-359-P.  The operational area is defined as the Ironbark site survey area, a four kilometre by four kilometre area with a 500 metre buffer for vessel manoeuvring.

Easting Northing Latitude Longitude


19° 08’ 12.28” S
19° 08’ 13.14” S
19° 10’ 54.90” S
19° 10’ 55.77” S

116° 03’ 10.68” E
116° 06’ 01.82” E
116° 03’ 09.75” E
116° 06’ 00.94” E

Purpose of the survey

The small-scale geo-technical and geo-physical survey was a pre-drilling survey and aimed to confirm that a future well location is positioned on flat seabed in an area free of seabed debris and shallow gas pockets. Several other geo-hazards and man-made seafloor hazards were identified during the survey.


Activities included:

  • a geophysical acquisition (multibeam, side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profiler, magnetometer, high resolution reflection imaging)
  • a geotechnical sampling (piston or gravity coring and box core sampling)
  • vessel and support (AUV, helicopter) operations


Duration of the survey

The activity took place in mid-2019 over four days.


Great Australian Bight

BP took the decision in late 2016 not to progress with its plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight, offshore South Australia. Subsequently, two of the four permits in which BP held title interest have been transferred to another operator, and two have been cancelled.


BP enters Good Standing Agreement over Exploration Permits EPP 37 and EPP38BP

Developments Australia Pty Ltd and the Joint Authority for the Commonwealth/South Australia offshore area have entered into a good standing agreement (GSA) in respect of BP’s unfulfilled minimum work program obligations in Exploration Permits EPP37 and EPP38.


BP will satisfy the GSA through expenditure on activity in Australia consistent with Joint Authority expectations. At least fifty per cent of the funds will be discharged on activity in South Australia.