Drilling for gas off the coast of NSW is one step closer today after the national authority gave MEC Resources’ investee Advent Energy the green light for further surveys of its PEP11 site.

Advent say the site has potential to unearth significant volumes of natural gas south east of Newcastle, shoring up supply to the challenged east coast gas market and contributing to national energy security.

But they need to find it first.

The latest approval from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) allows for the 2D seismic survey to go ahead, before several more geotechnical studies – any exploratory drilling not forecast until at least 2019.

MEC resources (ASX:MMR) has a 47 per cent interest in the unlisted explorer Advent, but shares in the company made little movement off the news.

MMR share price movements over the past six months. Source: Investing.com
MMR share price movements over the past six months. Source: Investing.com

MMR was trading down 4.35 per cent in early trade, at 2.2c to give it a valuation of $6 million.

“This is another fantastic step for Advent Energy and the exploration of the offshore Sydney Basin. These are excellent developments to commence 2018 on a very positive note, and we look forward to further progress during the year,” MEC chairman Goh Hock said.

Advent Energy will now commence mobilisation of equipment and preparations to undertake the 2D survey.

In an announcement to market last week they detailed a plan to engage an international marketing agency to identify suitable major international players to fund the future exploration and drilling.

“High quality 3D seismic data is necessary to derisk the prospects within PEP11 sufficiently to ensure a sustainable exploration and appraisal program can be undertaken in future. Exploration drilling on the existing 2D dataset is considered to be too risky,” they said.

It comes after the company fended off rumours of an advance from BPH energy late last year, and company squabbles as to unpaid loans.