The four permits in the Bonaparte Basin – NT/P82, NT/P85, NT/P84 and WA-454-P are located near a large existing contingent resource, said Santos.

The company will be the operator of all the four permits, thereby enabling it to align its stakes in nearby assets.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

According to Santos, the NT/P82 and NT/P85 licenses are located immediately to the south of the Barossa project area, where it acquired the 4,347km2 Bethany 3D seismic survey in 2018. Santos has a 25% stake in the Barossa field, which is presently, in front end engineering and design phase and is the most likely candidate to backfill the Darwin LNG plant.

The other two permits NT/P84 and WA-454-P are located near the Petrel/Tern/Frigate field complex in the Petrel sub-basin. Santos, through separate agreements with Neptune Energy, subject to customary approvals, will acquire 100% operated stake in the Tern and Frigate fields and a 40.25% stake in the Petrel field.

The deal with Beach Energy will boost Santos’ position in the Bonaparte Basin, where it holds a stake of 11.5% in the Bayu-Undan gas-condensate field and the Darwin LNG plant, in addition to the stake in the Barossa project.

Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said: “This alignment of equity and operatorship will allow for a more strategic approach to the next phase of exploration in the region.

“It also reinforces Santos’ significant exploration and existing substantial resource position in offshore Northern Australia and is a good example of industry collaboration aimed at doing things smarter.”

Gallagher added that the next step for the company is to assess new and existing seismic data for the four Bonaparte Basin permits to build inventory and define potential drilling targets within the next few years.

Last month, Santos began production from the Van Gogh infill project in the Exmouth Basin, which marks the successful completion of the two-well program aimed at boosting production from the offshore Western Australian field.

Discovered in 2003, the Van Gogh field is one of three subsea oil field developments in the Exmouth Basin to have a tie back to the Ningaloo Vision Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO).