Missions - Australia

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Mission Logs

  1. Brecknock2 - Woodside
  2. Callister – Santos
  3. Enfield 1 – Woodside
  4. Enfield 2 – Woodside
  5. Enfield 3 – Woodside
  6. Enfield 4 – Woodside
  7. Mutineer – Santos
  8. Pluto – Woodside
  9. Thylacine – Woodside

  10. Research Themes
  11. Research Locations
Australia locations map


Australia is a region with expanding oil and gas exploration in deepwater offshore locations. The coastline of Australia and its continental shelf provide 1.5x the area of the terrestrial land mass of this continent.

To help explore this vast deep-sea landscape SERPENT has entered into a local partnership with Santos Ltd and Woodside Energy Ltd, together with a consortium of Universities led by the University of Sydney, incorporating the University of Western Australia, University of Technology, Sydney, University of Wollongong and the University of Hawaii. The SEA (South East Asia) SERPENT part of the global programme is now expanding through a series of new offshore missions and projects and new industry partners


Research Themes

In collaboration with Woodside and Santos, the Australian consortium of Universities has obtained an Australian Council Linkage grant that will provide funding for the next 3 years. The aim of SEA (South-East Asia) SERPENT is to develop the fundamental deep-sea science that will underpin environmentally sustainable drilling practices. Scientists at the University of Sydney, University of Western Australia, University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Wollongong will explore Australia’s deep-sea benthos for the first time through the SERPENT project.


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Biodiversity Exploration

Characterisation of the species composition and abundance using high resolution ROV video transects and digital stills camera systems. Understanding what species are present in an area is crucial to understanding how an ecosystem will respond to any form of impact and its likely recovery rates. This research theme is taking place in all 3 Western Australia study areas over the course of 2005 and 2006.


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Physical Disturbance

The effects of drilling and offshore exploration are still poorly understood. The pattern of drilling spoil distribution has been modelled in the past, but using new video techniques SERPENT aims to look at the actual spread and impact of drilling spoil on the seafloor. This includes looking at how certain species may bioturbate and return the seafloor back to more natural conditions. This research uses a long-term approach with video surveys before, during and after a drilling event. Twinned with biodiversity exploration these tools will provide a new line of research for the investigation of physical impact in the deep sea.


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Animal Stress

Building onthe impact on biodiversity patterns through drilling, our work on Animal stress with the University of Sydney will examine shock proteins that are sequestered by an animal when it is placed under a level of stress. We aim to look at how the species present in Australian deepwater respond to habitat disturbance and to examine the level of stress and recovery in these species.

The techniques used involve gel electrophoresis of heat shock proteins in a range of sessile and mobile species within and outside of impacted areas. The collection of high quality samples and habitat mapping with an ROV is integral to this new theme.


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Artificial Reef Effects Settlement plates

How a rig and its structures function as a refuge or habitat for fish and encrusting species has not been widely studied. This study uses the placement of articificial settlement plates and video mapping of the seafloor infrastructure to look for local enhancement of the fish, benthic and encrusting community. How a reef builds up on a structure is yet to be defined, so using a range of sites and structures of varying age offshore Australia we hope to look at the factors that might control and sustain an enhanced population.


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Fish Life History and Temporal changes in demersal fish abundance

We can deploy fish traps on the seabed to determine differences in community succession within and outside of drill spoil. The University of Technology , Sydney , will work with SERPENT to use the Bohnsack fish-scan method to determine fish species, densities, and size structure of fish aggregating at each rig. We will collect fish from the seabed and remove fish otoliths (earstones), which can be polished to reveal daily and annual growth rings, enabling age and growth characteristics to be estimated. Using Laser-Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, elemental signatures can be identified and quantified to determine contaminants and their effects on fish growth over the life of the fish.


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Shelf and Slope Processes

Working with UWA SERPENT aims to examine the finer scale physical patterns of the oceanographic setting at the Enfield site. This is area is characterised by internal waves, that will cause local effects on the transport of sediment, larvae and key species. To fully understand the link between exploration offshore and the levels of impact we need to fully explore the oceanographic setting of the area to determine the difference between natural ad artificial patterns.

Using high resolution current meters to map the flow and speed of internal waves, the ROV will be able to collect data at short intervals that may elucidate the overall patterns of the internal tidal systems.


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Chemical Fingerprints

The University of Wollongong is working with SERPENT to obtain chemical fingerprints of the secondary metabolites produced by deep-sea organisms. Our research locations allow metabolite profiles to be compared as a function of temperate vs. tropical waters. Australian deep-sea fauna are a relatively unexplored source of potential new lead compounds for the development of novel classes of human therapeutics. All extracts will be screened for antimicrobial activity using the fluorescein diacetate antibacterial assay.


Research Locations


Santos Mutineer Development

Mutineer location mapThe Mutineer Development lies 150 km north of Dampier in the Carnarvon Basin off the Northwest Coast of Australia. Mutineer, operated by Santos Ltd, was discovered in 1997 and is currently producing 50,000 bbls/d, Mutineer has a throughput of 100,000bbls/d, through 4 wells tied to a floating production, storage and offloading vessel.


Woodside Enfield Development

The Enfield Development is situated within Production Licence Area, WA-28-L, which is located approximately 40 km offshore, north-west of Australia’s North West Cape Figure 1. Equity in the WA-28-L licence area is divided between the operator Woodside Energy Ltd. (WEL) (60%) and Mitsui E&P Australia Pty Ltd (40%). The Project lies close to a number of environmentally sensitive areas including the Ningaloo Reef and associated Marine Park. At its closest potential point, the proposed development is located approximately 35 km from North West Cape and 16 km from the boundary of the Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters). The water depth across the licence area varies from 400 metres in the east to over 550 meters in the west.

Enfield location map


Woodside Browse Area

Browse location mapThe Browse Gas Project includes the Brecknock, Brecknock South and Scott Reef discoveries. Combined the fields represent a very substantial undeveloped gas and condensate resource.

Studies have confirmed that Browse could underpin Western Australia's second liquefied natural gas production hub.

The initial development concept for Browse involves offshore facilities and 1-3 Liquefied Natural Gas processing trains with capacity to process up to 7-14 million tonnes a year.  Browse could also supply natural gas to Australian markets.

Browse, which is operated by Woodside Energy Ltd., could be in production from 2011-2014, dependent on additional appraisal, customer negotiations and regulatory approvals. Further appraisal drilling and design work is planned in 2005.


Santos Callister

Otway Basin location mapThe Otway Basin is located in the south-west corner of Victoria and the south-east corner of South Australia. Santos holds interests in one exploration permit in the onshore area of this basin and three exploration permits and two retention licenses offshore.

These permits were evaluated by drilling in 2004 with the Callister 1 well in VIC/P51 and the Amrit 1 well in VIC/P52.