Origin and Santos have received NT Government approval to install groundwater monitoring bores near potential exploration sites in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin.
The companies have revealed their first targets for shale gas exploration are both east of Daly Waters.
Six months of baseline groundwater data is needed before well drilling and the controversial practice of fracking can begin to extract shale gas there.
The companies will be required to provide laboratory reports to the NT Government and the data will be published online, the government said yesterday.
The Environment Management Plans for the groundwater monitoring bores are available on the Department of Primary Industry and Resources website here.
Approval has not been sought or given for any petroleum well drilling or hydraulic fracturing.
“The Environmental Management Plan covers a series of low impact activities proposed to expand Origin’s existing, four-year, baseline groundwater monitoring program in preparation for its’ 2019 exploration program,” Origin said in its now approved application.
Origin plans to drill two bores on its lease areas adjacent to the existing Velkerri N1-1 lease (formerly referred to as Amungee NW-1) near Daly Waters.
“In some instances, the proposed monitoring bores may be converted to a water supply bore for future drilling and stimulation activities,” Origin says.
Santos is the operator of exploration permit (EP) 161 about 350km south-east of Katherine.
Santos plans to drill up to two bores at Tanumbirini 1 Well which was drilled in 2014 and later cased – again located east of Daly Waters.
“Santos wishes to undertake preexploration activities (enabling activities) in 2018 to allow the 2019 program of works to proceed ...” the company says.
Santos’ activity is on Tanumbirini Station, currently being offerred for sale by the Thames Pastoral Company, which is itself owned by a UK investment fund.
The station covers over 5000 square kilometres and was bought by Thames Pastoral for about $33 million in 2012 from pastoralist Sterling Buntine.
An Onshore Gas Non-Compliance Hotline has also been established as a way for people to report potential non-compliance of the onshore gas industry.
The 24-hour toll-free hotline number is 1800 413 889. Calls can be made anonymously.
Primary Industry and Resources Minister Ken Vowles said: “The Government has a clear plan to protect our environment, create local jobs and ensure the actions of Government and industry are transparent and accountable.
“Territorians can be assured our Government is faithfully implementing all of the 135 recommendations of the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing.
“This water monitoring forms part of just one of those recommendations and will allow the water to be tested for key water quality indicators prior to any exploration approvals for hydraulic fracturing being given.
“The results from this monitoring will build on a range of environmental baseline data being collected as part of implementing the 135 recommendations, including methane monitoring and regional groundwater monitoring being undertaken by CSIRO/GISERA.”
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