The Federal and NT governments have signed a deal to target the Beetaloo region, south of Katherine, as a “new world class gas province”.
Resources Minister Matthew Canavan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner yesterday.
The two governments have agreed to work together to further develop the NT’s gas industry, both offshore and onshore gas.
The moratorium on fracking for onshore gas was controversially lifted earlier this year.
Some gas companies have said Katherine stands to benefit as the staging post for workers and materials if the industry is allowed to mine deep beneath the Beetaloo’s sands.
The Beetaloo basin is home to vast oil and gas rich shale fields, as much as 18,500 square kilometres in extent.
Brittle rocks lay in a thick carpet underground, as far as four kilometres deep but, with modern mining methods, ripe for the plucking.
Mr Canavan said the agreement recognised the national significance of gas resources offshore northern Australia, the onshore gas resources of the NT 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,” Mr 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.
Mr 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.”
Meanwhile, INPEX, on behalf of Ichthys Joint Venture participants, has also announced the signing of a landmark $24 million benefits agreement with the Larrakia people in Darwin.
The 40-year agreement is considered the most significant long term package of benefits and opportunities provided outside of Native Title obligations.
The INPEX Larrakia Advisory Committee, which includes representation from the Larrakia Development Corporation and Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, will oversee the distribution of benefits to Larrakia people. Initially, the focus is expected to be on education initiatives and on the support of the elderly members of the community.
A new report by leading industry expert says Australia is on the cusp of becoming the world’s biggest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas.
The $US40 billion Ichthys LNG project is set to drive Australia to the premier LNG export position.
“As Ichthys ramps up production in coming months we expect Australia’s annualised production rate to overtake Qatar’s nominal capacity of 77 Mtpa, making us the world’s biggest exporter,” EnergyQuest chief executive, Dr Graeme Bethune, said.
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