The Bonaparte Basin is located mostly offshore in far north-eastern parts of Western Australia and the western Northern Territory. The basin covers a very large area of 440,000 km2 with only about 5% of this area being onshore.continue to yield new oil and gas discoveries with operators continuing to undertake active exploration, appraisal and development programs.
Exploration began onshore in the late 1950’s with gas first discovered onshore at Bonaparte-2 in 1964. Petrel-1 was the first major discovery offshore in 1969. A later round of exploration offshore discovered oil in the Vulcan sub-basin at Puffin and other fields. A major exploration phase from the 1990’s to mid-2000’s resulted in the discovery of large gas resources at Bayu-Undan, Barossa, Crux and other fields. Overall nineteen fields have produced commercial hydrocarbons in the basin to date.
Bonaparte Basin evolution began during the Cambrian as a large intracratonic sag depocentre. Subsequent Devonian rifting was followed by major uplift and reactivation associated with the breakup of Gondwana and was followed by extension and post-rift thermal subsidence. As a result of these events the Bonaparte Basin features a series of deep fault-bound depocentres including the Petrel Sub-basin, Vulcan Sub-basin and Malita Graben that are separated by flanking platforms with thinner basin-fill. The edges of the basin are defined by major faults and basement cratons including the Proterozoic Kimberley Block to the southwest and Sturt Block to the southeast. The Bonaparte Basin has five petroleum systems ranging in age from Devonian to Jurassic/Cretaceous. Most discoveries in the basin are gas but there are small sub-commercial oil discoveries and wells with oil shows in the southern part of the basin.