Emphasis in exploration drilling in Australia in 1985 continued to move onshore and concentrate in the Eromanga/Cooper and Surat basins. So although the 267 exploration wells drilled established a new record, the total number of wells of all classes drilled (359 wells) fell below the 1984 tally, with fewer development and offshore wells (both exploration and development) drilled. Offshore appraisal drilling in the Gippsland and Carnarvon basins proved discouraging. Most new-field discoveries were made in the onshore Eromanga/Cooper basin and, once again, an encouraging spread of shallow Eromanga accumulations provided incentive to move away from established areas of production. Muteroo 1 flowed 1,720 BOPD; Cook 1 flowed 880 BOPD; Watson South 1 flowed 3,112 BOPD; and Corona 1 recovered 12 m of oil on a drill-stem test. Poolowanna 2 proved a disappointment in the western Eromanga basin. A new-field gas discovery was made in the New South Wales Gunnedah basin. An oil discovery, West Terrace 1, which flowed 760 BOPD, was made near existing production in the Canning basin. Offshore, Yolla 1 was an encouraging oil, gas, and condensate discovery in the little-explored Bass basin. Further successes were recorded in the Barrow subbasin by Saladin 1 and by the Harriet CI appraisal well, whereas the Dampier subbasin just to the north yielded discouraging results in appraisal drilling near the Talisman and Wilcox discoveries, made during 1984 and 1983, respectively. An appraisal well, Goodwyn 7, with a condensate flow of 123 bbl/mmcf of gas on a test rate of 38 MMCFGD, gave promise of a substantial light-liquids accumulation in Goodwyn field.
Geophysical coverage was higher in 1985 than in 1984, substantially so in the offshore basins. The Mereenie-Alice Springs oil pipeline came on-stream in 1985, and construction began on the Amadeus basin-Darwin gas pipeline.
Higher production rates brought Australia to a level of self-sufficiency for the first time, with hydrocarbon exports of 145,000 b/d and imports of 140,000 b/d. Gippsland basin fields reached a new 1-day peak (538,680 bbl) and averaged 474,000 BOPD for the year, contributing 90% of the nation’s production. Thus, a greater proportion came from other fields than previously, with Queensland production surpassing Western Australia’s for the first time since Barrow Island field came on-stream in 1967.