NT approves first onshore exploration since lifting ban

The Northern Territory Government has approved onshore shale gas exploration for the first time since lifting a moratorium last year.

Santos’ environmental management plan (EMP) for drilling operations in the McArthur Basin was approved by NT Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler, making it the first such approval for shale gas operations onshore NT since the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing was lifted in April 2018.

Santos will drill the Tanumbirini 2H and Inacumba 1/1H wells in permit 161, situated east of Daly Waters.

Under new requirements, all EMPs where activity involves the drilling of a petroleum well or hydraulic fracturing must be published for public comment; Santos’ plan received 22 submissions.

The government said the company revised the program following this process and the approved plan was in accordance with the recommendations of the NT’s Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing.

“Our environment is important and the Territory Labor Government understands that it is a large part of what makes living in the NT so special,” said Ms Lawler.

“As a government, we are restoring trust and certainty through the implementation of a robust, clear and transparent set of rules and guidelines on how the environment must be protected – good environment policy is smart economic policy.”

Santos Managing Director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said this and other gas projects would help improve the Territory’s economy.

“We drilled Tanumbirini 1 in 2014 and liked what we saw, so we are delighted to be in a position to resume exploration drilling,” he said.

“Local communities desperately need the jobs, small business opportunities and investment the onshore natural gas industry will bring, and with the new regulatory regime in place to ensure that the environment and water resources are protected, we’ll be moving as quickly as possible and doing our best to beat the approaching wet season.”

For more information visit the Santos website.

If you have news you would like featured in Gas Today contact Assistant Editor David Convery at dconvery@gs-press.com.au

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