New data and ideas for energy exploration in Australia
ASEG Extended Abstracts
2009(1) 1 - 9
Published: 01 January 2009
Pre-competitive geoscience is a strategic asset for assessing and reducing risk in energy exploration in Australia. Exploration differs from other business processes because the outcomes are highly uncertain. Investment in exploration carries a high degree of risk which is often exacerbated by a lack of information and knowledge pertaining to areas being targeted. Perceived prospectivity is usually the main factor influencing the decision to explore a certain country or region, and this can only be assessed by a robust scientific understanding of the geological processes that may have been active in the area (Powell, 2007). Such understanding is generally based upon thorough analysis and interpretation of good quality geoscience data. Mining and energy companies cannot capture the value of geoscientific analysis until they have taken up exploration permits or tenements. Thus, companies will not usually commit large amounts of money and geologist?s time to regional-scale data acquisition and interpretation for area selection (Powell, 2007). This is especially true for under-explored ?frontier areas? which have sparse data and poor geological constraints. Exploration is now an international business with companies taking a global perspective when deciding where they will obtain best return for their exploration dollars. Provision of high-quality pre-competitive geoscience data by Australian Governments allows these companies to assess the risk in regional prospectivity without committing to expensive data acquisition themselves. It also promotes Australia as a sound exploration destination in a highly competitive global market. In addition, exploration is a cyclical business driven by commodity prices, and is iterative in nature. It is rarely the first company that takes up tenements over an area that discovers and develops a profitable resource. New data and results can radically change the assessment of an area, while new technologies and geological ideas may provide new pathways to exploration success. Governments must maintain pre-competitive data-sets throughout these cycles and develop them over the long term (20 years plus). Data need to be updated and improved as scientific and technological advances are made, and they must be readily accessible and vigorously promoted to the global exploration industry (Powell, 2007). By attracting exploration investment, governments ensure effective exploration and development of energy and mineral resources for the benefit of all Australians.
Full text doi:10.1071/ASEG2009ab078
© ASEG 2009