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Oil and Gas

The first signs of oil in Western Australia were reported in the early 1900s at Warren River near the State‚Äôs south coast.  The indications proved to be illusory as wells were drilled without success.  The story of the first fifty years of oil and gas exploration mirrors carried on from these early frustrations and failures.  
The first confirmed oil showings in the State were in 1918 when traces were reported in a water bore east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley.  The first exploratory well was sunk in the Canning Basin in 1922 without much success, while other dry wells were sunk in the Ord Basin further to the north in the same year.  Over the next two decades the Freney Kimberley Oil Company continued fruitlessly exploring and drilling in the Canning Basin, finally ceasing operations due to the Second World War.

Large-scale exploration for oil began in 1952 when the government-owned West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd (Wapet) began operating in the Carnarvon, Canning and Perth basins. Using more modern exploration techniques, Wapet struck oil at Rough Range in the Carnarvon Basin in 1953. Even though the reserves of oil were small and uneconomic this was a turning point for oil exploration in Western Australia, and for Australia as a whole, as investors became convinced for the first time that oil and gas could be found.

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