Origin Energy has called a temporary halt to its exploration of the Beetaloo Basin for onshore gas.
The company announced today the temporary halt in work was the result of the "unprecedented circumstances brought about by COVID-19".
Origin informed the NT Government and the Northern Land Council of its plans yesterday.
The company said it was now at a point in its current work program to safely and temporarily pause activities at its Kyalla well site near Daly Waters and reschedule further work to the second half of the year.
"Throughout the response to COVID-19 we have worked with the Northern Territory and Federal Governments, followed health advice and made changes to our operations to protect people and communities across the Northern Territory," a company spokesman said.
"We have also worked with the Northern Land Council, the representative body for Aboriginal people where we are exploring for gas.
"We remain committed to our Beetaloo project which, if successful, has the potential to deliver long-term economic and social benefits for the Northern Territory, Australia and the region."
The spokesman said activity on its exploration site is minimal and includes road works, installing water monitoring bores as required by regulation, and safely packing down the rig and moving it to the side of the lease now that drilling has been successfully completed.
"We currently have 45 employees and contractors accommodated in a self-contained camp, 14 of which are Northern Territory residents and the remainder from interstate. Nobody on site has flown in internationally.
"Those on site are observing health authority requirements for social distancing and we are also maintaining separation between Territory and interstate team members.
"We will progressively reduce our presence to essential personnel only, ensuring we meet regulatory and environmental management conditions to monitor and maintain the site.
"Those leaving will follow controlled travel plans and not travel through communities on the way from site.
"During this interim period we will use Northern Territory based employees and contractors to undertake civil and other works in preparation for the resumption of activities later in the year," the spokesman said.
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