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The Australian hydrocarbon exploration effort dates back to the nineteenth century, but it was not until well into the twentieth century that the first commercial field was discovered.The cumulative result of only about 3400 exploration wells drilled in 40 basins in Australia is the discovery of an estimated 6.4 billion barrels (bbl) of oil reserves, 2.1 billion bbl of condensate reserves, 136 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, and 2.6 billion bbl of liquefied petroleum gas reserves. The majority of these hydrocarbon reserves (98%) is in the Gippsland Basin and the Cooper/Eromanga Basin and on the North West Shelf (Carnarvon,Browse, and Bonaparte Basins)..

The Cooper/Eromanga and Gippsland Basins are mature exploration provinces with modest future exploration potential, but the large undeveloped reserves in the major gas fields along the North West Shelf will be developed principally for liquefied natural-gas export in the twenty-first century. The North West Shelf still has significant potential for further major discoveries, as demonstrated by its undrilled identified prospects and recent drilling success.

Other basins which offer the potential to develop into significant petroleum provinces in the twenty-first century include the basins of the Great Australian Bight and the Lord Howe Rise, which were largely overlooked during the twentieth century because of perceived excessive water depths and relatively isolated locations. These areas offer some of the best potential for undiscovered oil provinces and are the focus of current and future gazettal round opportunities

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