An Armour Energy and Shell/Santos joint venture has won the rights to explore more than 900 square kilometres of land near Surat.

Minister for Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, said Armour had won a tender to explore 457 square kilometres of land 10 kilometres south of Surat, and in a joint venture agreement, Santos and Shell had won rights to explore a 393 square kilometre parcel of land 19km east of Surat.

“These land releases mean more petajoules in pipes and more Queensland gas for Australia’s east coast,” Dr Lynham said.

“Queensland continues to lead the nation on gas and again, I’m imploring other states to follow our lead.”

Before exploration can begin, successful tendering companies will need to fulfil native title and environmental requirements and negotiate land access agreements.

Any gas produced on these latest blocks can only be sold in Australia, a Queensland innovation to deal with east coast gas shortages and high prices.

Dr Lynham announced Australia’s first release of gas land to supply the domestic market only in February 2017. Since then, almost another 25,000 km² has been released for in Queensland for gas exploration, almost a third of it for the domestic market only.

Last month, Senex announced the go-ahead for its Project Atlas in the Surat Basin on the first 58km² release of land the Queensland Government granted for domestic-only gas production in March 2018.

Dr Lynham also announced another Australian-first for gas: a highly prospective 22km block south west of Chinchilla will go to tender, with any gas only available to Australian manufacturers.

“We know an industry affected by the nation’s domestic gas shortage has been manufacturing – an industry which has been crying out for a stable, reliable gas supply,” he said.

“Once again, Queensland is doing the heavy lifting on gas policy stepping up to provide a boost to our manufacturing industry by supplying gas they need.

“We continue to deliver on our election commitments to unlock gas land to ensure supply to our manufacturers, as creators of jobs and business opportunities for thousands of Queenslanders.”

Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, welcomed the initiative.

“There are a number of manufacturing industries in Queensland for whom gas is a key input and access to a reliable supply of affordably priced gas is critical to the ongoing viability of those industries,” Mr Dick said.

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