Failure of bill looking to ban offshore oil and gas activities opens door for BPH Energy’s exploration plans

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By Colin Hay - 
failure bill looking ban offshore oil gas activities opens door BPH ASX energy exploration plans

BPH Energy (ASX: BPH) and its investee company Advent Energy have welcomed news that a bill that had the potential to block oil and gas exploration off the NSW coast has failed.

The unlisted Advent (through its wholly-owned subsidiary Asset Energy) and joint venture partner Bounty Oil & Gas (ASX: BUY) are currently in discussions with Federal authorities to move to the next stage of exploration of the large PEP-11 permit.

However, the tabling of the Offshore Drilling and Associated Infrastructure Prohibition Bill 2023 was seen as a potential impediment to their plans.

Offshore drilling ban plan

The Bill sought to amend three acts to prohibit offshore activities in NSW – including drilling for petroleum.

A NSW Legislative Committee on Environment and Planning recently completed its assessment of the matter and filed a report into the Bill.

That report was referred to a parliamentary committee in late June 2023.

The NSW Legislative Committee on Environment and Planning inquiry investigated a range of issues.

After being provided with evidence and opinions from legal experts, the committee concluded that aspects of the proposed legislation may be constitutionally invalid and have unintended consequences.

Their final report made ten findings and two recommendations, including that accordingly the Bill should not pass.

Recommencing activities in PEP-11

BPH’s confidence in the process for Asset to be able to recommence activities in PEP-11 received a further recent boost when a notification on the website of the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA), Australia’s national offshore watchdog, showed that the status of Asset’s applications’ is currently ‘Under Assessment’.

BPH said its understanding is that the next step in the application process is for the joint authority to make its decision on Asset Energy’s applications.

Asset Energy is the Operator of PEP-11, with an 85% interest. The remaining 15% interest is held by Bounty Oil & Gas NL.

Significant resource potential

The PEP-11 permit is considered to potentially hold the largest offshore petroleum resources off Australia’s east coast.

The permit covers 4,576 sq km of the offshore Sydney Basin immediately adjacent to the largest gas market in Australia.

Asset Energy has already proven an active hydrocarbon generation and migration system within the licence as well as establishing an inventory of leads and prospects with prospective resources of 4.7 trillion cubic feet of gas at the P50 confidence level.

While the applications for the variation and suspension of work program conditions and related extension of PEP-11 are being considered by NOPTA, Asset is investigating the availability of a mobile offshore drilling unit to drill the proposed Seablue-1 well on the Baleen prospect in PEP-11.

Asset is continuing discussions with drilling contractors and other operators who have recently contracted rigs for work in the Australian offshore beginning in the first half of 2024.