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Harnessing the potential of Northern Territory’s gas industry

15 November 2018

Joint media release with the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, The Hon Michael Gunner.

The Australian and Northern Territory governments have signed an agreement that will help realise existing offshore gas reserves and the potential of the Beetaloo Sub-Basin as a new world-class gas province.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner today.

Under the MOU the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments agree to work together to further develop the Northern Territory’s gas industry, both offshore and onshore gas.

Minister Canavan said the MoU recognised the national significance of gas resources offshore northern Australia, the onshore gas resources of the Northern Territory and the need to attract investment and create economic growth.

“The Beetaloo Sub-Basin can be developed safely and sustainably to the benefit of all Territorians, including indigenous communities and the wider Australian community,” Minister Canavan said.

“Initial resource estimates for the Basin suggest there could more than 200 years of domestic gas supply for Australia at current levels of consumption - plus providing substantial quantities of gas for export.

“That is an exciting prospect in terms of energy security for our existing domestic manufacturing sector and being able to support new manufacturers which might come online in years to come, particularly those based in the Northern Australia.

“The Commonwealth and Territory governments recognise that a proactive approach to planning and investment by both governments is absolutely critical to ensuring the efficient delivery of infrastructure.  

"This MoU is a vote of confidence in the potential of the shale gas industry in the Northern Territory following the Territory Government’s decision to lift the moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing.

“The Commonwealth is already working with NT Government and industry to resume exploration activities in the region to clarify the commerciality of the resource. Industry exploration to date indicates a P50 gas-in-place resource of at least 500 trillion cubic feet (TCF) for one of multiple prospective layers in the Beetaloo Sub-basin.  There are also prospective liquids-rich resources providing another target for industry when they return to the basin in next year’s dry season.”

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the signing of the MoU demonstrated the potential of the industry for the Territory.   This is the chance for the Territory to continue to expand LNG exports while diversifying our economy through gas-based manufacturing.

“The MoU will help establish the Territory as a world-class hub and to effectively implement the 135 recommendations from the independent scientific report into hydraulic fracturing in full,” he said.

“It supports our Five Point NT Gas Strategy to create jobs through exploration, production, service and supply, export, manufacturing, research and innovation.

“Our number one priority is creating local jobs and this MoU will help us proactively plan for a successful industry. This MOU will help us understand the science so we can protect our unique natural environment for future generations.”

Major objectives of the MoU include:

  • contributing to national energy security
  • establishing the Northern Territory as a world class gas production, manufacturing and services hub
  • driving industry collaboration in the priority areas of infrastructure investment, Aboriginal economic development, common industry practices and research, innovation and training
  • managing social and environmental impacts for a Northern Gas Industry.

The Beetaloo Sub-Basin, located about 500 kilometres south of Darwin, is an 18,500km2 area highly prospective for shale gas.  There is more than 30 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in the Timor Sea with many operators actively developing commercialisation options.

Media contacts: Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180
                               Chief Minister Gunner's office 08 8936 5500