BP Wins 4 Australian Permits

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BP, Europe's second-largest oil company, won four permits to explore for oil off the coast of southern Australia. Australia's government is looking to boost oil production and said it performed extensive due diligence of BP's ability to follow strict safety and environmental procedures.

BP's (BP) permits permits are for areas in the Bight Basin off South Australia, where drilling of wells may occur in 2013 or 2014, according to Bloomberg News. The other three are in the Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia, Bloomberg reported. The permits are the first issued by Australia's government since 2000.

Woodside Petroleum, Australia's second-largest oil and gas company, and two other Australian firms also won permits. Australia's government expects the companies to spend $674 million on developing the blocks over the next three years. In some areas, BP will be drilling at depths up to 4,600 meters.

Australia hopes to become the world's second-largest gas exporter after Qatar within 10 years after a round of announcements highlighting significant gas reserves off the country's northwest coast and near the Queensland state, Reuters reported.