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Energy companies flock to offshore Australia

June 18, 2013 at 7:12 AM

CANBERRA, Australia, June 18 (UPI) -- The high interest in offshore Western Australia ensures the region will be a major natural gas supplier for years to come, the Australian energy minister said.

The Australian government awarded 13 permits during its latest offshore auction, generating more than $170 million in new investments off Western Australia and Tasmania. The government said secondary work from the permits could generate more than $500 in new investments.

Some of the largest energy companies in the world secured awards for the region, including French energy company Total and U.S. rival Chevron.

Some of Australia's offshore natural gas reserves are committed to Asian markets where economic growth means higher energy demands. Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray said interest expressed in offshore development would add to the country's reserve potential.

"This ongoing investment will ensure the continuation of Australia's impressive reputation as a safe, reliable exporter of liquefied natural gas" he said in a statement Monday.

A reserve estimated wasn't provided. The permits are for preliminary seismic surveys and exploration wells.

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