New geochemical analysis indicates a previously unexplored area of northern Australia has promise as a new hydrocarbon province, the Carrara sub-basin.
Results from the National Drilling Initiative’s Carrara 1 deep stratigraphic drill hole, located in the newly discovered sub-basin which straddles the Northern Territory and Queensland border, were recently released by Geoscience Australia.
MinEx CRC, in partnership with Geoscience Australia and the Northern Territory Geological Survey, completed the 1,750-metre-deep drill hole in the Carrara sub-basin last December.
Geoscience Australia minerals, energy and groundwater division chief Dr Andrew Heap said the analysis showed the sub-basin contained rocks with promising hydrocarbon potential.
Heap said: “These results highlight the Carrara sub-basin as a potential new energy province in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
“It’s too early to tell how far these rocks extend, but the results are encouraging and give industry another reason to be looking seriously at this unexplored frontier.”
The sub-basin was one of the most significant discoveries made during the first phase of the Australian government’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program, uncovered because of a seismic survey of the South Nicholson basin in 2017.
Early data from the Carrara 1 drill hole, announced by Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt in April, indicated that the Carrara sub-basin showed similarities to the Beetaloo sub-basin, one of the most promising shale gas resources globally.
Heap said further analysis being undertaken by Geoscience Australia is testing the link to the Beetaloo sub-basin and other geological regions.
He added: “Geoscience Australia is undertaking radiometric age dating of samples taken from Carrara 1, which will establish whether the Carrara sub-basin has geological links to the Beetaloo sub-basin or to the older petroleum plays of the McArthur basin.
“These results will provide us with a better understanding of the energy resource potential of this sub-basin.”
The National Drilling Initiative is one of three research programs run by MinEx CRC and is a 10-year, $220 million collaboration between government, industry, and research organisations.
It aims to overcome the technical challenges of exploring for mineral deposits in prospective rocks concealed under the cover of younger rocks and sediment through new exploration tools and techniques.