Western Australia woos energy explorers

June 12, 2013 at 7:26 AM

PERTH, Australia, June 12 (UPI) -- The government of Western Australia said it expected strong interest from oil companies with its offer of six new exploration areas.

Western Australia's Department of Mines and Petroleum announced it opened up six new exploration areas to explorers in the state's Midwest section.

The state said the new acreage covers more than 8,100 square miles and includes areas situated in the Perth Basin. Department of Mines and Petroleum Director Bill Tinapple said Tuesday the Perth Basin may be rich in commercial shale natural gas reserves and has pipeline infrastructure in place.

"In 2012, the Western Australian petroleum sector was valued at a record $22.9 billion, so this is an exciting opportunity to expand on such growth," he said in a statement.

Tinapple said the last auction in 2012 attracted a high number of "highly competitive bids."

The state government estimates it holds 300 trillion cubic feet of potential natural gas reserves. Bidding for the release areas closes in November.

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