Gas explorer Santos has applied for a water licence as it continues its search for shale gas in the Beetaloo Basin.
Santos has applied for a maximum amount of 193.5 megalitres a year.
There are few details available on the application but Santos says it wants the water for petroleum activity.
The application has been made to the NT Government and advertised in the Katherine Times this week.
Those opposed to fracking for onshore gas have been closely watching the activities of mining companies like Santos, and Origin Energy.
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.
The NT Government lifted its moratorium on onshore gas development last year.
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 has previously said.
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.
Comments on Santos' application can be made to the Controller of Water Resources until April 5.
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