(EnergyAsia, June 27, Friday) — Australia has entered its biggest ever era of petroleum exploration as energy prices and demands for liquid natural gas escalate.

“We are in a unique position to reap enormous rewards from our resources,” says APPEA CEO Belinda Robinson, who will chair the first day of SEAAOC, northern Australia’s largest and longest established petroleum conference, in Darwin in July.

SEAAOC, to be held 16-18 July at the Holiday Inn Esplanade, will review exploration and production as well as a number of other issues including energy security and environmental sustainability.

The event will be held at a time of unprecedented interest from domestic and international companies in Australia’s prospecting activity, and the announcement by the Federal government of 35 new offshore petroleum exploration areas in Commonwealth waters.

“We now have more than A$100 billion worth of petroleum projects under development or in planning, and recognising the hurdles to achieving that potential, the new Rudd Government has signaled a strong willingness to partner with industry to get more gas projects off the ground,” Ms Robinson said. (US$1=A$1.05).

“The investment being considered is almost eight times the original investment in Australia’s biggest ever resource project, the North West Shelf gas project based at Karratha.”

She welcomed the announcement by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson that the UN had agreed to extend Australia’s territory by an area five times the size of France.

“Australia’s crude oil and condensate production has declined from nearly 100% of Australia’s needs in 2000 to just over 60 percent today and an anticipated 32% by 2017.

“With more area to explore for new oil and gas reserves comes more promise. The challenge will be to increase our knowledge of the petroleum prospectivity of these areas and encourage explorers into them.”

According to ExxonMobil, demand for liquefied natural gas in the US and Europe will surpass Asian consumption by as early as 2015, while global LNG demand is set to triple between now and 2030.

A key speaker at SEAAOC will be Luluk Sumiarso, Indonesia’s director general of oil and gas, who will give an overview of oil and gas developments in his country.

Indonesia’s state-owned Pertamina is aiming to increase its crude oil output 28% to 183,000 barrels a day this year from 143,000 barrels in 2007. It also plans to increase gas output to 1.485 billion cubic feet a day from 1.114 billion cubic feet a day in 2007.

Robin Antrobus, a vice president at ConocoPhillips Australia, will review achievements and future opportunities in northern Australia. Conoco Phillips operates the Bayu-Undan facility in the Timor sea, where a 502km subsea pipeline sends gas to the Darwin liquefied natural gas plant to be converted to LNG for export to Asia.

Another key speaker is Eros Agostinelli, managing director of Eni Australia. Eni operates oil fields and is an active explorer, with exploration areas over 12,000 sq km between the southern coast of Timor and the northern boundary of the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA).

Chris Hart, managing director of MEO Australia, will review The Tassie Shoal LNG and methanol projects in the Timor Sea, as well as plans for exploration and production in the North West Shelf. MEO is undertaking extensive appraisal drilling to confirm gas reserves to underpin supply to the Tassie Shoal projects.