Australia's government on Sunday said it has awarded 12 new petroleum exploration permits for off the coast of Western Australia and Victoria state. Among the eight companies to win the permits--the tender process received 46 bids--are BHP Billiton (BHP, BHP.AU), Bass Strait Oil Company, WHL Energy and Woodside Petroleum (WOPEY, WPL.AU).
"Liquefied natural gas exports are forecast to significantly expand in Australia over the next two decades," said Martin Ferguson, resources minister in a release.
"With these new permits, we hope to see discovery of new oil and gas reserves, which could translate into more jobs and growth for our economy."
The new permits are expected to spark some A$303 million in investment over the next three years, according to the government.
-By Enda Curran, Dow Jones Newswires; 612-8272 4687; firstname.lastname@example.org