Chevron Completes Its Largest-Ever Seismic Survey Off Australia

By James Paton

(Bloomberg) — Chevron Corp. is studying data from its largest-ever seismic survey to decide where to drill for oil in an untapped frontier off southern Australia.

The seismic program, carried out by Norway’s TGS Nopec Geophysical Co., gathered data covering about 22,000 square kilometers (8,500 square miles) of the Great Australian Bight, Chevron’s local unit said in an e-mail response to questions.

Chevron is hunting for oil in the deep-water region that U.K. energy giant BP Plc has called “pretty much the last big unexplored basin in the whole world.” The U.S. oil producer won acreage in the Bight in 2013 and has proposed spending almost A$500 million ($388 million) on exploration.

Ion Geophysical Corp. is also planning to start a seismic program around November over a broader area off South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania states after getting approval from the nation’s offshore oil regulator, Shawn Rice, senior vice president of operations and engineering, said by phone.

BP, which plans to start drilling in the Bight in October 2016, completed a seismic program in the region three years ago. BP is looking for opportunities to work with other explorers to potentially save money and make their operations more efficient, it said last month.

Seismic surveys, often the first step in exploring for oil and gas, have been described by the industry as “ultrasounds of the earth” that help explorers get information on the location and size of deposits.

©2015 Bloomberg News