The hunt for shale gas in the Northern Territory shows no signs of slowing.
While three companies continue to explore the Beetaloo for the vast reservoirs of gas believed to exist, one of those companies plans to expand their foothold in the area.
Santos is already drilling in the Daly Waters area and has now applied for a petroleum exploration permit further south around Newcastle Waters.
This new exploration area will be known as EP354 for 70 exploration blocks if all the Native Title agreements and the NT Government grants the permit for a term of five years.
Anyone "with an estate or interest in the exploration permit application area" has two months from January 29 to submit an objection and native title claimants have four months.
The grant of an exploration permit does not provide approval to undertake exploration activity which still needs land access agreements and Environment Management Plan to be approved by the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.
Meanwhile, comments on the NT Government's controversial draft Offsets Policy close tomorrow.
The NT Government has confirmed it must deal with the increased greenhouse gases which come from developing an onshore gas industry before it can go into full production.
If fracking goes ahead in the Territory then Australia's greenhouse gas emissions will increase by about 4.5 per cent, the Pepper scientific inquiry found.
The government has just released a draft offsets paper for public comment with no detail on how it intends to cater for the NT's extra pollution.
Protect Country Alliance has already labelled the draft policy a farce "while MPs are actively promoting and pursuing a massive polluting fracking industry in the Territory".
According to the Alliance's analysis, the offsets policy is vague, mixes biodiversity offsets with greenhouse gas offsets, and does not offer any assurance that damaging fracking projects won't lead to serious pollution events.
"Fracking the Beetaloo Basin has the potential to unleash a carbon bomb equivalent to the commissioning of more than 50 coal fired power stations," Protect Country Alliance spokesman Graeme Sawyer said.
"It is doubtful that offsetting this is feasible for the nation, let alone the NT, given the scope of the emissions that would be produced from fracking the Beetaloo.
"The emissions produced cannot be offset by preserving a patch of bush here or there, as the Gunner Government would have the public believe.
"The Pepper Inquiry was explicit in ensuring fracking companies paid to offset the pollution they caused," he said.
All this follows a major speech by Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel yesterday who backed the Federal Government's strategy of using gas as a "transition" fuel for the nation during the move away from coal to clean energy sources, including hydrogen.
In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Dr Finkel said the transition would take decades and gas must be used in the interim because "we cannot abruptly cease our use of energy".
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