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Snapshot in time

60th anniversary of Innamincka 1 drilling.

Sir Thomas Playford and Minister Lyell McEwin at Innamincka.
The Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford (right), and Minister Lyell McEwin (centre) arriving for the pegging ceremony at Innamincka in February 1959. (Photo T001696)

The Commonwealth Petroleum Search Subsidy Act was introduced in 1957 to assist the Australian search for oil by offering financial incentives to companies drilling in regions with petroleum potential. The Bureau of Mineral Resources (now Geoscience Australia) vetted applications, supervised operations, and received a one-third slab of drill cores, samples and logs.

Innamincka 1, drilled under this scheme, was the first deep petroleum exploration well in the South Australian Cooper Basin and the first well drilled by the Delhi Australia Petroleum and Santos Limited Joint Venture. The well was spudded on 29 March 1959 and the rig was released on 27 November 1959.

Examples of pages.

In celebration of this history, the Department for Energy and Mining has published a detailed account (PDF 8 MB) by Professor Heli Wopfner of the lead up to and drilling of Innamincka 1.

Innamincka 1 drilled through the Eromanga Basin into the Cooper Basin and reached a total depth of 3,852 m in gently dipping Ordovician beds (Warburton Basin). A total of 35 cores were cut and can still be viewed today at the South Australia Drill Core Reference Library. Ten drillstem tests were run and recorded oil-cut mud in the Eromanga section and gas in water from the Cooper section.

Innamincka 1 was completed as a water well and was finally decommissioned in June 1988.

Download Heli’s report (PDF 8 MB)

Access the well completion report

– Elinor Alexander, June 2019

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