November 29, 2020

Australia’s first commercial oil was discovered at Rough Range in Western Australia, in the early 1950’s.
Reports say that a French world scientific expedition found oil shale in New South Wales, near Blue Mountains, Australia, in 1802, and the first exploration drilling for oil happened in 1902 at Warren River, Western Australia. However the indications proved to be illusory as wells were drilled without success. Oil showings were reported in 1918, in a water bore east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley. Oil was also found in 1924 at Lake Bunga No.1 well near Lakes Entrance, Victoria. 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 surveys were conducted in the Canning Basin in 1947 and a new company, Western Australian Petroleum (WAPET) drilled its first well at Rough Range in 1953. Rough Range is located in Western Australia 65 km south of Exmouth. If the well was spudded on 8 September 1953 it was completed only in 1955. Rough Range No 1 intersected an 8.6 meter oil column a few months after it was spudded and later produced at a rate of 550 barrels per day. It was the commencement of Australia’s commercial petroleum industry. Rough Range No 1, the first well drilled in Western Australia after WWII set off a boom in exploration for oil.
(Source and image: SLWA -First commercial oil at Rough Range in 1953)