120,000 sq km of offshore exploration acreage will be released by the Australian Government this year – the largest in almost 20 years.

The Government says it is focussed on shoring up future domestic energy security and export earnings.

The release will be the first under a new streamlined system that “simplifies bidding, offers greater transparency and responds faster to the market demand”.

Areas are available for exploration across five basins in Commonwealth waters off Western Australia, Victoria and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands:

But most areas are heavily concentrated in the northwest, Resources and Northern Australia minister Matt Canavan says.

Carnarvon Petroleum’s (ASX:CVN) July 2018 Dorado discovery could be the largest-ever oil find on Australia’s North-West Shelf.

It is part of Carnarvon’s broader Phoenix project in the Bedout sub-basin, which is about 250km north of Port Hedland.

READ: Carnarvon still can’t say exactly how much oil is in Dorado but it’s ‘a major resource’

“I am pleased to see continued momentum for exploration in our north and the potential jobs and economic growth it would bring,” Canavan says.

“I am also pleased to see industry interest in petroleum exploration in southeast Australia, with nominations leading to seven areas being available for bidding. Future exploration and discoveries in these areas will support our efforts to bring on more gas supplies for the east coast.”

There are 64 release areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration. Bidding is open until 5 March 2020.