Founded in 1954, Santos has been active in the energy business for more than 50 years. Its name was an acronym for South Australia Northern Territory Oil Search.
‘Flying’ geologist, Heli Wopfner, mapping the Santos licence area around Oodnadatta, 1956.
Santos made its first significant discovery of natural gas in the Cooper Basin with the Gidgealpa 2 well in 1963. The Moomba 1 discovery in 1966 confirmed this region as a major petroleum province.
As a result of these discoveries, Santos had a commercially viable quantity of gas and entered into Gas Sales Agreements with the South Australian Gas Company, the Electricity Trust of South Australia and the Australian Gas Light Company. Gas supplies commenced in 1969.
The 1980s saw Santos develop a major liquids business following the discovery of oil at Tirrawarra in the early 1970s. A liquids recovery plant was built at Moomba, along with a fractionation and load-out facility at Port Bonython.
Early exploration using percussion drill rig, 1955.
By the 1990s Santos had become a major Australian operating enterprise with interests in United States and United Kingdom petroleum provinces and in emerging areas such as the Timor Sea and Carnarvon Basin in Western Australia.
A number of acquisitions in the 1990s provided Santos with additional opportunities onshore and offshore Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Since 2000 Santos has continued to build its business in South East Asia, the United States and southern Australia, while undertaking a high impact exploration program and developing new projects to drive production and earnings growth.
In 2004, Santos celebrated 50 years since being incorporated on 18 March 1954 as the South Australia Northern Territory Oil Search.
The Santos 50 interactive timeline takes you through many of the milestones that we achieved in our first 50 years.
1954 Santos Ltd is incorporated in Adelaide, South Australia, on 18 March. The first Directors are Mr John Bonython AO, Major General G W Symes, Mr R F Bristowe, Sir Henry Simpson Newland and Sir Douglas Mawson. Exploration leases are taken out in an area covering 120,500 square miles in South Australia and 5,000 square miles in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. Licences are also applied for in the Northern Territory.
1959 The Innamincka 1 well is drilled in the Cooper Basin. Traces of hydrocarbons are found.
1963 The gas discovery at Gidgealpa 2 flows at 3.2 million cubic feet per day: the first encouraging discovery of natural gas in the Cooper Basin.
1966 The Moomba gas field is discovered which, together with the Gidgealpa field, provide reserves to satisfy the then South Australian market. This justifies the construction of a pipeline to Adelaide and the signing of a sales contract with the South Australian Gas Company, the state’s gas marketing utility.
1968 Construction of gas processing facilities at Moomba begins.
1969 The 790 kilometre pipeline to transport natural gas to Adelaide is completed and, on 10 November, gas is sold to the first customer: the South Australian Gas Company. A sales contract with the Electricity Trust of South Australia is also signed.
1970 Gas and light crude oil are discovered at Tirrawarra 1, with oil flows of 650 barrels per day and gas flows of 7.8 million cubic feet per day. Until then, popular opinion had believed the Cooper Basin was only a gas resource.
1971 A Letter of Agreement is signed to provide gas to the New South Wales gas utility, the Australian Gas Light Company.
1973 A pipeline to transport gas to New South Wales commences construction.
1974 Moomba experiences the worst flood in its recorded history, denying road access to the area for six months. The record rainfall is approximately 34 inches, compared to an average annual rainfall of three inches.
1975 South Australian Parliament enacts the Cooper Basin (Ratification) Act facilitating the rationalised development of Cooper Basin gas reserves covered by the South Australian Cooper Basin Unit Agreement. This innovative agreement enables Santos to supply gas concurrently to South Australia and New South Wales.
1976 Supply of gas to New South Wales commences. Gas is discovered in the Eromanga Basin which overlies the Cooper Basin. Oil discoveries in the Eromanga Basin follow.
1978 Santos shareholders receive their first dividend of two cents per share, 24 years after incorporation. The Strzelecki 3 well flows at 2,400 barrels of oil per day: the highest onshore flow rate recorded at that stage.
1981 South Australian Parliament approves the Indenture Bill for the Cooper Basin liquids project, signalling the go-ahead for the $1.4 billion project to process and market liquid hydrocarbons from the Cooper/Eromanga Basins. Jackson 1 in the Queensland section of the Cooper/Eromanga Basins flows at 3,878 barrels of oil per day.
1982 Santos signs the US$600 million loan agreement for the Cooper Basin liquids project: one of the largest loans raised by an Australian company at the time. The 659 kilometre liquids pipeline connecting Moomba with the sea-board load-out facility at Stony Point near Whyalla in South Australia is completed. The port facility is later named Port Bonython, in honour of Santos' founding Chairman, Mr John Bonython AO.
1983 The first shipment of liquid hydrocarbons leaves Port Bonython.
1984 Reef Oil and Alliance Oil Development are acquired. The Jackson–Moonie pipeline is opened connecting Jackson oil production with Brisbane’s port and refining facilities. LPG production begins at Port Bonython and with it the first export of LPG from Port Bonython to Japan.
1985 Net operating profit after tax exceeds $100 million for the first time.
1986 An unprecedented collapse in world crude oil prices to US$10 per barrel sees Santos’ Australian exploration program halved.
1987 A majority holding in Cooper Basin producer, Vamgas, is acquired. Santos is appointed exploration and production operator for all South Australian activities and assumes responsibility for production, development and downstream operations in Queensland. Acquisition of the majority shareholding in Latec Investments gives Santos involvement in the Amadeus Basin, Northern Territory. Total Exploration’s and Western Mining Corporation’s petroleum interests in the Cooper/Eromanga Basins are also acquired.
1988 Acquisition of Peko Oil gives Santos interests in the Timor Sea, the United States and the United Kingdom.
1989 Acquisition of Elf Aquitaine Exploration Australia consolidates Santos’ interests in the Timor Sea and Bonaparte Basin. Talbot 1 flows at 4,900 barrels of oil per day in a new field discovery in the Timor Sea. Production commences from the Challis field in the Timor Sea. A significant liquids-rich gas discovery is made at Elevala 1 in Papua New Guinea. The Talisman oil field commences production, marking Santos’ first offshore production and the first from the Carnarvon Basin, off the Western Australian coast.
1991 An historic agreement to sell natural gas across state borders is struck allowing the sale of gas from south-west Queensland to South Australian customers.
1992 The first phase of the south-west Queensland gas project is completed with the construction of the 180 kilometre raw gas pipeline linking Ballera to the Moomba plant.
1993 The upstream assets of the Australian Gas Light Company are acquired, extending Santos’ onshore interests to include producing assets in the Surat Basin and Denison Trough, eastern Queensland, and the Timor Gap. Stage 1 of the gas processing plant at Ballera is completed for gas sales to South Australia. Santos farms into the WA-209-P block in the Carnarvon Basin by funding 70% of the cost of the Stag 1 oil discovery.
1994 The supply of gas from south-west Queensland to South Australia commences. A contract is signed with ICI Australia (now Qenos) for the sale of ethane concentrate to be used in the plastics industry. Two oil fields are discovered in the Timor Sea: Elang and Kakatua.
1995 Construction commences on the ethane treatment plant at Moomba. Santos signs contracts with Incitec, Allgas Energy and the Gas Corporation of Queensland for the sale of gas from south-west Queensland. The Undan gas/condensate field is discovered in the Timor Gap.
1996 Acquisition of Parker and Parsley Australasia and MIM Petroleum provides additional interests in the Cooper/Eromanga and Surat Basins, offshore Western Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The supply of ethane concentrate to ICI commences following the construction of the ethane treatment plant and a dedicated pipeline from Moomba to Botany in New South Wales.
1997 Gas from south-west Queensland to Brisbane is sold for the first time. An additional interest in East Spar is acquired from WMC and additional contracts are signed for the sale of East Spar gas.
1998 The Legendre and Mutineer oil fields and the John Brookes gas field are discovered in the Carnarvon Basin. Gas is supplied to Mt Isa from south-west Queensland for the first time.
1999 Santos acquires its first interests in Victoria in the onshore Otway Basin and the offshore Gippsland Basin. With the construction of the Heytesbury gas processing facility, first gas is sold direct to the Victorian market. A 25% interest in the Hides gas field in Papua New Guinea is acquired.
2000 Shell Australia’s Barrow and Thevenard Islands interests in the Carnarvon Basin are acquired.
2001 The Oyong oil and gas field offshore East Java is discovered. Acquisition of Natural Gas Australia provides a 40% interest in the Evans Shoal gas field in the Timor Sea and gives Santos interests in three of the four major fields in the area.
2002 Successful appraisal of the Mutineer and Exeter oil fields offshore Western Australia signals the beginning of Santos’ first operated offshore oil development and one of Santos’ largest projects in value terms. Esenjay Exploration in the United States is acquired. Santos enters the world LNG market, signing a Heads of Agreement to supply LNG from the Bayu-Undan gas field in the Timor Gap to the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Tokyo Gas Company. Santos is the only Australian-owned company involved in this world-class project. Further long-term Cooper Basin gas contracts are secured with one of Santos’ earliest customers, AGL. The discovery of the Maleo gas field offshore East Java and advance of Oyong commercialisation bolsters Santos’ Indonesian business. Scotia delivers Santos’ first coal seam methane gas sales to CS Energy.
2003 Project sanction is achieved for Mutineer-Exeter and for the LNG phase of Bayu-Undan. The largest quantity of gas contracts are signed since the 1970s. A contract with TXU Australia and successful production test secures the development of Santos’ first offshore operated project in southern Australia: the Casino gas field.
2004 The John Brookes gas field in the Carnarvon Basin is successfully appraised, additional field interest acquired and two gas sales agreements signed. A Heads of Agreement is signed for the sale of Maleo gas reserves. Bayu-Undan commences liquids production. Part of Novus’ Indonesian and Cooper Basin assets are acquired. Acquisition of exploration acreage in the Gulf of Suez, Egypt, positions Santos in the world’s largest petroleum province. The Casino gas field in the Otway Basin receives the go-ahead for development, backed up by an increased gas sales agreement. Further Indonesian acreage is secured in the Donggala PSC.
2005Santos Direct markets gas from Minerva directly into the Victorian market for the first time. Exploration success with Jeruk and Hiu Aman wells offshore Indonesia, Henry well offshore Victoria and Caldita well in Timor Sea. Mutineer-Exeter and John Brookes developments start production. OMV’s Gippsland and Cooper Basin assets acquired, resulting in 100% stake in Patricia-Baleen and Sole. Development go-ahead granted for Oyong and Gas Sales Agreement signed for Maleo. Additional Egyptian acreage awarded and new exploration venture entered in Kyrgyzstan. Acquisition of Tipperary Corporation, including world-class Fairview field, boosts coal seam gas position.
2006Bayu-Undan LNG and Casino and Maleo gas projects start production. Record financial results with profit doubling previous year. First entry into Vietnam with offshore farm-in to Nam Con Son and Hong Song Basins followed by discoveries at Dua and Blackbird fields. Gas contract signed to supply gas to Wesfarmers’ Kwinana LNG plant. Sale of US business announced.
2007New $90 million Newmont gas supply contract signed. New country entry to India and Bangladesh. Record sales and production announced. Ethane supply contract to Qenos extended. $300 million off-market buy-back completed. United States business divested. Multi-billion dollar Gladstone LNG Project proposed. Oyong oil development starts production. South Australian Government repeals legislation restricting any one shareholder from owning more than 15% of Santos’ shares.
2008Sale of 40% stake in the Gladstone LNG project to Malaysian oil and gas company PETRONAS, the world’s third-largest LNG producer. Bechtel appointed contractor for the front-end engineering and design of the GLNG gas liquefaction plant and associated infrastructure on Curtis Island, offshore Gladstone. Gas supply contract signed for Reindeer project to supply CITIC Pacific’s world-scale magnetite mining Sino Iron project in the Pilbara, Western Australia. Shareholder cap lifted as planned, 12 months after legislation repealed.
2009GLNG formally enters front-end engineering and design phase. GLNG becomes the first CSG-to-LNG project to submit its Environmental Impact Statement to the Queensland Government. Successful completion of $3 billion equity raising. GLNG signs heads of agreement for sale of 2 mtpa of LNG to PETRONAS. Partnership announced with France’s GDF SUEZ to develop a floating LNG project in the Bonaparte Basin offshore northern Australia. Santos becomes the naming rights sponsor for the Santos Tour Down Under. First gas from Oyong phase-2 in Indonesia. On 10 November, Santos commemorates the 40th anniversary of natural gas supply from the Cooper Basin. PNG LNG signs sales agreements with Sinopec, TEPCO and Osaka Gas totalling approximately 4.3 mtpa over 20 years.
2010First gas from Henry and Netherby fields offshore Victoria. PNG LNG moves into full project execution. Sale of Evans Shoal to Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd for up to $200 million. GLNG wins Queensland Government environmental approval. Santos and Apache announce plans to develop the Halyard field offshore Western Australia. Sale of 15% interest in the GLNG project to France’s Total for $650 million. Completion of €1 billion hybrid issue. GLNG wins Federal Government environmental approval. Agreement signed for Santos to sell 750 PJ of portfolio gas to GLNG.
2011GLNG project sanctioned and works on GLNG plant launched. Reindeer/Devil Creek and Halyard/Spar projects in WA delivered on schedule and on budget, increasing WA domestic gas supply. Gas discovery at Zola and oil discovery at Finucane South offshore WA. First dedicated shale well drilled in Cooper Basin. Completion of acquisition of Eastern Star Gas makes Santos the largest holder of CSG reserves in NSW. Santos Water Portal launched, providing 24-hour online results of water monitoring in Queensland. PNG LNG construction progresses on the plant, pipeline and gas fields. First oil from Chim Sáo in Vietnam. New office opened in Singapore. Appraisal drilling begins for Bonaparte LNG.
2012Fletcher Finucane oil project sanctioned. Gas discovery at Sangu in Bangladesh. Official opening of Devil Creek gas plant in WA. GLNG agreement to purchase 365 PJ of gas from Origin Energy. Port Bonython plant celebrates 1,000th export cargo. Santos farms-in as operator to onshore Amadeus and Pedirka Basins, NT. First commercial production of shale gas commences at Moomba-191. Gas discovery at Crown offshore WA. Santos farms-in to onshore McArthur Basin, NT.