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Tap casts eye over Carnavon basin potential

Independent Tap Oil is expanding its Australian footprint with a deal focusing on shale oil and gas plays in the onshore Carnarvon basin

The agreement with private outfit Rusa Resources covers two special permits in Western Australia, covering a large part of the Palaeozoic Merlinleigh sub-basin, the entire Byro sub-basin, plus associated shelf areas.

The permits lie close to the Dampier-to-Bunbury natural-gas pipeline, allowing any potential discovery to be commericalised either through the Western Australian domestic gas markets or one of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects along the state’s northern coast. Rising domestic gas prices and potential supply shortfalls are making unconventional prospects an attractive proposition in the state.

Rusa currently holds 100% interest in permits STP-SPA-018 and STP-SPA-021, with Tap given the option to take a 20% stake in the licences if they are converted to exploration blocks, plus an additional option to snap up another 15% in each patch. Up to half of the permit areas can be converted into exploration permits.

Under the deal, Tap and Rusa will carry out exploration work, including geochemical sweeps over the 38,000 square kilometre prospecting areas to identify the preferred acreage for conversion to exploration permits in 2013.

Besides the Permian shale-gas and Devonian shale-oil targets, the area also holds conventional oil and gas potential.

Other players in the area include Perth-based New Standard Energy, which has a tie-up with US supermajor ConocoPhillips in the Canning basin, plus local firms Australian Oil & Gas and Empire Oil & Gas.

Tap’s managing director Troy Hayden said the move was a logical extension given the company’s experience in the Western Australian gas market.

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