Linc Energy said it had been contacted by about 70 companies from North America to India to fund the development of shale oil prospects in central Australia.
"You've got the majors, but by the same token a lot of second-tier groups with big chequebooks," said Peter Bond, chief executive of the Brisbane-based company. "We've had about 70 inquiries."
Linc has hired Barclays Plc to find a partner to develop shale oil prospects in the Arckaringa Basin that it says may be similar to acreage in the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale regions in the US.
Any partner would follow global energy companies including Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and BG Group in making shale bets in Australia to tap the world's sixth-biggest potential resources of the fuel.
"There's a good likelihood of a partnership forming," said Paul Jensz, an analyst at PhillipCapital. "You'd think there would be a few majors involved. It's risk management. They don't want to be left out of a large new energy play."
Linc is seeking a partner to contribute as much as $300 million to fund the shale oil exploration, Mr Bond said on Thursday.
Of the companies that have contacted Linc, there are a "lot of North American groups, but quite a few from Asia and India and Europe as well," he said.