France’s Total SA has signed an agreement with Perth-based Central Petroleum Ltd. to farm into four of Central’s application permits in the Georgina basin onshore Northern Territory and Queensland.
The deal is potentially worth $183 million (Aus.) and involves an optioned three-stage exploration program.
Total has agreed to farm into application area EP(A) 132 in the Northern Territory as well as application areas ATP(A)s 909, 911, and 912 in northwestern Queensland.
Total will fund 80% of a first year’s exploration program and then have the option to commit to a further two stages of exploration worth a total of $130 million (Aus.). Central will pay 20% of the cost of each stage.
If Total elects to fund its 80% of the second and third stages, it will take up a 68% interest in all four permits. Central will remain the operator for the first 4 years of the deal but if Total does go to Stage 3, then it will become operator for 90% of the permit areas while Central will retain operatorship of 10%.
The deal strengthens Total’s presence in Australia and the Australasian region. The company recently signed an agreement to farm into several areas onshore and offshore Papua New Guinea with Oil Search Ltd. and it is already a shareholder in the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG project offshore Western Australia and one of the CSG-LNG projects at Gladstone in Queensland.
For its part Central has decided to move its headquarters from Perth to Brisbane as a measure of the company gaining more operational experience.
Last month Central signed a potential $150 million (Aus.) farmout of up to 70% of its 13 permit areas in the Amadeus and Pedirka basins of the Northern Territory in a deal with Santos.
Under that deal Santos will fund exploration with an initial $30 million and an option to fund another $60 million in each of stages two and three of exploration. This deal does not include Central’s Surprise oil discovery in the Amadeus basin.
The twin Australian deals mean that Central has secured $350 million (Aus.) worth of exploration, funded over 4 years and across 30% of its portfolio. At the same time the company has retained control of 70% of its total acreage of 60 million acres.
The deal also focusses more attention on the Georgina basin where PetroFrontier recently farmed out a 65% interest in its six permits in the southern Georgina to Norwegian company Statoil for the expenditure of $205 million (Aus.) in exploration.