Brisbane company Linc Energy says independent studies have confirmed a major shale oil source in South Australia's far north, which officials have estimated could be worth $20 trillion.
The company says U.S. consultants have carried out drilling and geological and seismic surveys around Coober Pedy. Linc Energy holds rights over more than 65,000 square kilometres of land in the Arckaringa Basin and started explorations in 2008.
In a statement to the Stock Exchange, the company said reports from U.S.-based consultants indicate underlying rock formations "are rich in oil and gas-prone kerogen".
'You're talking Saudi Arabia numbers. It's massive, it's just huge.'
—Linc Energy CEO Peter Bond
The company says up to 233 billion barrels of oil are estimated to be trapped in the shale. Chief executive Peter Bond says even if the amount of retrievable oil is well below that, the discovery is still "bigger than the Cooper Basin and Bass Strait combined".
"If you stress test it right down and you only took the very sweetest spots in the absolute known areas and you do nothing else, it's about 3.5 billion [barrels] and that's sort of worse-case scenario," he said. "So if you took the 233 billion, well, you're talking Saudi Arabia numbers. It's massive, it's just huge."
By way of comparison, the Athabasca oilsands in Northern Alberta contain almost 170 billion barrels of proven or probable reserves.
"We've also spent a lot of time with our own geologists and external geologists trying to unlock what's the best option there. "What it could do is really turn this thing into the next boom, so where you saw coal-bed methane transform Queensland and the gas industry, shale could and I think will transform South Australia and a potential oil boom."