Lakes Blue Energy NL (LKO) is Australia’s oldest operating petroleum exploration company.
The Company, originally named Lakes Oil Limited, was formed in 1946 with a vision to commercialising the ‘Lakes Entrance Shaft Project’, which it acquired from the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate. That project, ultimately unsuccessful, involved drilling radially for oil from an excavated chamber of around 9 metres depth.
Building upon broader geo-physical survey work carried out in the Lakes Entrance area, and in the context of excitement around the 1953 discovery of oil at Rough Range in WA, Lakes Oil Limited listed on the ASX on 19 April 1955.
In 1959 Lakes Oil was taken over, and delisted, by Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil NL, as the latter company established a spread of exploration acreage to support its own listing.
The Company then sat idle for many years until Mr Rob Annells acquired the corporate shell from Woodside Petroleum and, on 5 December 1985, relisted the Company with a focus on petroleum exploration onshore in Victoria.
In 1994, with shareholder approval, the status of the company changed from ‘Limited’ to ‘NL’, meaning the company’s sole object is mining.
Over the period to 2012 the Company secured a portfolio of highly prospective Victorian exploration acreage, spent of the order of $100m (drilling multiple exploration wells) to become Victoria’s pre-eminent onshore exploration company. By 2012, the Company had established a contingent resource of gas in Gippsland and had plans in place for drilling of a well to commercialise that resource. Unfortunately, these plans were frustrated.
From around 2012/13, faced with vocal opposition to coal seam gas production and fraccing, neither of which Lakes Oil was involved in, the Victorian Government introduced a ban on onshore petroleum exploration. Without any basis, and seemingly through lack of understanding, the ban covered both conventional and unconventional exploration.
Faced with not being able to explore in its home-state until 2021 (when the Victorian exploration ban was eventually to be lifted), Lakes Oil necessarily ‘reinvented’ itself, diversifying its portfolio through the script for script acquisition of:
- in 2016, Navgas Pty Ltd, giving the company 100% ownership of exploration acreage in Queensland and South Australia; and
- in 2018, Rawson Oil and Gas Limited, giving the Company 50% ownership of the then about to be drilled Nangwarry-1 well in South Australia and 100% ownership of exploration acreage in Papua New Guinea.
The Nangwarry-1 well, drilled in late 2019, proved to be a carbon dioxide rich resource, and is a prospective source of supply of carbon dioxide for the east coast Australian market, which has suffered short-supply since the 2016 closure of the Caroline-1 carbon dioxide project (located to the south of Nangwarry).
On 26 March 2021, following receipt of Shareholder approval at the Company’s 2020 Annual General Meeting, the Company changed its name to Lakes Blue Energy NL. The new name was selected to better reflect the Company’s vision in a fast-evolving energy universe.