The Canning Basin, located on the northern coast of Western Australia, is one of Australia’s largest basins at over 400K sq. km (figure 1), two times the size of the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. It is adjacent to the prolific offshore Carnarvon Basin. A limited number of wells have been drilled with only marginal success on the basin margins bounding the northern deep Fitzroy Trough depocenter. Prograding Devonian and Carboniferous marine carbonates and siliciclastics were deposited in a transitional ramp setting in the Fitzroy Trough; defined source rocks with TOCs of .5 to 4.25% lie within this depocenter but limited information is known about the potential deeper sources. Multiple tectonic phases altered this basin, creating an extensive set of both transpressional and extensional fault systems.

In the Canning Basin, the Australian government estimates potential tight gas resources are 74 TCF, and that an additional 70-150 TCF of shale gas resources are geologically and technically producible. This is approximately equal to the USGS assessed resource size for the entire US Marcellus shale gas system.

Unconventional discoveries like those found in North America have shown that there is significant potential for basin-centered gas around the Fitzroy Trough. Due to Australia’s needs for natural gas, both to feed the declining conventional feedstocks for export, as well as for meeting domestic energy needs, several vertical wells have been stimulated in the last 10 years demonstrating the gas potential within the basin-centered gas play.

Using prior work that was undertaken to develop a geological understanding of the Canning Basin, a US operator has initiated a new evaluation, including a large 3D seismic program (circa ∼200 sq. miles), with a commitment to future testing, drilling and stimulation of unconventional wells to help better define and understand the play with an eye toward economic production.


Using the wealth of prior work that was undertaken to develop an understanding of Canning Basin geology, Black Mountain Exploration has initiated a fresh, robust evaluation of the basin-centered play within a large exploration permit along the northern margin of the Canning Basin within the Fitzroy Trough (Figure 2). This evaluation has included extensive utilization of the existing data within the northern part of the basin and will include a future acquisition of a large 3D seismic program. With this evaluation is a commitment to future testing, drilling and stimulation of unconventional wells to help better define the resource play. A review of the geochemical, petrophysical and vintage 2D seismic data establishes an extensive basin-centered gas fairway beginning at 2000m and continuing to over 4500m in depth. This fairway steps down from the basin margins into the depths of the Fitzroy Trough and is analogous and correlative to a similar petroleum system that hosts significant gas discoveries on the opposite margin of the trough.

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