The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, has announced details of the world's first commercial release of offshore areas designated specifically for the assessment of their greenhouse gas storage potential.
Minister Ferguson: "The first ever release of exploration areas for greenhouse gas storage sites forms an important part of the Government's commitment to reducing Australia's carbon emissions while maintaining economic growth.
"Advancing storage technology and capacity is vital to the future of Australia's coal industry and to coal's future as part of the world's transition to cleaner energy pathways.
"It is also important for the oil and gas industry and our energy intensive industries.Projects such as Gorgon LNG in Western Australia have enormous potential to create jobs, exports and long-term economic growth at a time when we need it most, but CCS technology is crucial to its success.
"The release of 10 offshore areas for assessment of their commercially viable greenhouse gas storage formations provides industry with the opportunity to plan for CCS businesses in Australia as industrial CO2 streams become available for storage through the deployment of capture technologies over time."
The initial release areas are located across five offshore basins adjacent to Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Minister Ferguson said: "Today's release confirms Australia's place as the global leader in CCS."
"It follows on from Australia's world first legislation for greenhouse gas storage last year, the Australian Government's $500 million investment in low emissions coal technology, and its establishment of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute to drive 20 CCS demonstration projects by 2020.
"I am pleased to say the Institute now includes dozens of countries and companies around the world and I welcome the announcement this week that the United States will also participate in the Institute.
"The 10 greenhouse gas storage assessment areas being released today have been identified as having the best potential in terms of geological suitability and current industry needs and are underpinned by technical data from Geoscience Australia.
"Geoscience Australia's technical expertise will be made available to potential applicants through my department's website (www.ret.gov.au) and meetings with interested parties. I encourage potential applicants to work closely with Geoscience Australia to gain a full appreciation of the potential of these areas and their storage opportunities in the future."
Regulations and guidelines to support the new legislation are under development and will be finalised in the third quarter of 2009. The acreage release bidding will remain open until two months after the completion of the regulations.
For further information on the greenhouse-gas acreage release visit www.ret.gov.au.