Asset Energy starts marketing to international oil and gas companies ahead ahead of exploration approval for site off coast of Newcastle

An energy company that wants to conduct seismic testing off the NSW coast has begun marketing the site to attract “major international oil and gas companies and investors” to fund future drilling.

A satellite image of PEP11, off the coast of Newcastle, where seismic testing is proposed as part of gas exploration.

A satellite image of PEP11, off the coast of Newcastle, where seismic testing is proposed as part of gas exploration.

The federal regulator is expected to make a decision on Thursday as to whether Asset Energy will be allowed to explore for gas deposits 30km off the coast of Newcastle, by shooting acoustic pulses into the ocean floor.

In a company update released this week Goh Hock, chairman of Asset Energy’s parent company MEC Resources, said the area in question, known as PEP11, “is believed to comprise large structural traps that provide an opportunity to potentially discover significant volumes of natural gas to supply the challenged east coast gas market and contribute to national energy security”.

“Furthermore, an international marketing agency has been engaged to undertake marketing of PEP11 to suitable major international oil and gas companies and investors to fund the future exploration drilling of PEP11,” he wrote.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority asked Asset Energy to resubmit its environmental plan in August, as part of its application to explore the area, because NOPSEMA was “not reasonably satisfied” the plan met the criteria of regulations. NOPSEMA then asked Asset Energy to submit more information late last year after the company lodged its amended environmental plan in October.

The NSW Greens and Professional Fishermen’s Association have expressed concern that seismic testing could have a detrimental impact on aquatic life in and around the 12.25 square-kilometre patch.

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