Commodity Online

CANBERRA: Australia on Monday invited bids to explore 35 more offshore areas for petroleum and natural gas.

The areas are located across five basins off the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands coastlines.

In a statement issued by Australia s Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said The Australian government is committed to intensifying the mineral, oil and gas exploration effort and the development of new exploration science and technology .

He said today's announcement was a key part of the government's strategy to encourage investment in petroleum exploration. Bids for 17 of the new areas close on October 9, 2008, with the remaining 18 areas closing on April 9, 2009.