Energy company Senex is likely to compete for Queensland’s next two gas blocks, as the State gets its exploration mojo back.

Last week Senex (ASX: SXY) said it won the pilot tender to explore a 58 sq km region in the Surat Basin — a 270,000 sq km area that straddles the inland border of Queensland and NSW.

Senex told Stockhead it would probably bid for one or both of the blocks covering a total of 395 sq km in the Surat and the central Queensland Bowen basin as part of a strategy to supply the gas-starved East Coast gas market.

Queensland natural resources and mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the tender winners would be announced in the first quarter of 2018.

Senex will be attending the RIU Good Oil Conference next week, which will be held over September 13-14.

September 13-14 at Hyatt Regency Hotel Perth

Turning on the gas tap
Queensland is ramping up gas exploration after years of low investment nationally and while other States have banned certain types of gas extraction.

Victoria banned fracking this year, a method of extracting gas that involves shooting a water-based lubricant down a gas well to crack open gaps in rock where gas or oil is trapped.

NSW has a moratorium on coal seam gas exploration, while the Northern Territory’s moratorium on fracking still holds and Western Australian has just imposed one.

Queensland was an example of how gas producers and farmers could work together, said Stedman Ellis, COO of the West Australian chapter of gas industry body Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA).

“The uncertainty caused by the WA moratorium is strangling the onshore gas industry,” he said. Some companies were now looking overseas for new opportunities.

“The gas market in Eastern Australia will remain tight while Victoria and New South Wales maintain policies that restrict exploration and development.”

Not just bans

But it’s not just bans that have stifled Australia’s gas supply.

Santos, for example, contributed to East Coast shortages. It didn’t have enough gas to fill its international export contracts and sucked up domestic gas via third party contracts.

In terms of exploration, commodities information service Platts noted last year that it was the collapse in oil prices in 2014 that scuttled drilling in Australia.

The total number of oil and gas wells drilled fell from 1534 in 2014 to 821 in 2015, Platts reported.

Rising Asian demand would support liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, but low oil prices would still cap the prices companies could get for petroleum products, Morningstar senior resources analyst Mark Taylor said in July.

The Federal Government is seeking to prevent another East Coast gas shortage this summer by possibly imposing export controls through the new Australian Domestic Gas Supply Mechanism.

But in terms of sponsoring new exploration, the sector that will really get gas flowing again, there’s still a long way to go.

17th RIU Good Oil Conference

Stockhead is a sponsor of the 17th RIU Good Oil Conference at the Hyatt Regency Perth Hotel on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Over its long tenure of existence the RIU Good Oil conference has been considered the premier Oil & Gas conference for the mid-tier and junior Companies to promote their exciting developments and opportunities.

The upcoming 2017 RIU Good Oil Conference program strongly supports its outstanding reputation.  Over the two-day event the 450-plus delegates will hear up to 44 presentations ranging from ASX listed oil and gas companies, investment analysts and specialists from the oil and gas industry.

Two of the Keynote presenters are Kevin Johnson, Executive Director, Corporate Stockbroking of major sponsor Argonaut Securities who can be heard giving his wisdom on the Perth Radio Station 6PR and Justin Smirk (as seen on TV), Director Economics, of Westpac Institutional Bank, the conference’s longest running sponsor.

Both will be giving their well researched views on the oil and gas industry and how it impacts on the market and the overall economy.  Other major continuing sponsors are Tolehouse, Risc, Upstream Production Solutions and Lind Partners while new Sponsors BDO and HopgoodGanim Lawyers will be providing expert opinion to the program.