The permit has been awarded through the 2013 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release, is Statoil’s third asset in the country.

The WA-506-P permit covers an area of more than 13,000km² in water depths of up to 2,000m.

Statoil will collect 2,000 line kilometres of 2D seismic and 3,500km² of 3D seismic data within three years and then decide on further steps based on data analysis.

Statoil senior vice president for exploration in the eastern hemisphere Erling Vågnes said: "This award adds another large acreage position with high-impact potential to our global portfolio, in line with our exploration strategy. This is an untested part of a prolific basin, offering significant upside potential.

"This work programme offers the necessary flexibility for such a frontier area, and is supported by Australia’s stable regulatory framework and attractive fiscal terms."

Statoil, which has been operating in Australia for the last four years, said other parts of the Northern Carnarvon Basin already proved large volumes of gas and features several fields in production and an established infrastructure.

Image: Statoil has been operating in Australia for the last four years. Photo: Courtesy of Statoil.