Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor on Friday visited the Beetaloo Basin to build on the Federal Government's gas-fired recovery plan.
While visiting the Territory, Mr Taylor also held talks with NT Minister for Renewables and Energy Eva Lawler to discuss a Commonwealth-Northern Territory energy and emissions reduction agreement.
The proposed Beetaloo development provides a gaping greenhouse gas hole in the Northern Territory's climate change plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Experts have already suggested the shale gas industry could lift Australia's greenhouse gases as much as three per cent.
The NT Government is negotiating with the Federal Government on a way to provide a trade off from any rise in greenhouse gas production from shale gas.
Announced as part of the 2020-21 Budget, Mr Taylor said the Beetaloo Basin is the first of five key basins to be explored under the Government's $28.3 million Strategic Basin Plans.
"The Beetaloo Basin is a world-class resource that has the potential to drive significant development in the Top End to create local jobs and help Australia remain a world leader in gas," Minister Taylor said.
"The Government's Strategic Basin Plans will accelerate this development, driving investment and job creation in our regional and Indigenous communities as we recover from COVID-19.
"The Beetaloo Basin has the potential to supply more gas to Australian homes and manufacturers, helping to increase competition and drive down gas prices across the market. This will mean more Australian gas is working for all Australians."
Minister Taylor inspected progress of Empire Energy's test drilling program at its Carpentaria-1 site.
The junior explorers initial test results on onshore shale gas excited the share market recently after it announced a substantial find.
Empire Energy said it had discovered what is believes it is a big reservoir of liquids rich gas at its Carpentaria-1 well site about 85km south-west of Borroloola.
The gas was found shallower than expected and across a layer of shale almost a kilometre thick.
Carpentaria-1 is only the second well drilled in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin since the lifting of the fracking moratorium in 2018.
"The proportion of liquids-rich gas intersected in the Valkerri (shale) dramatically exceeds that of analogue wells previously drilled across the Beetaloo basin and materially exceeds Empire's pre-drill expectations," Empire Energy said.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt says this is an important milestone.
"The Beetaloo Basin has enormous potential for the Territory and the country, and it's great to see this work getting underway" Minister Pitt said.
"Our Strategic Basin plan will drive more jobs in regional Australia and provide the cheap reliable energy industry needs to grow manufacturing."
Empire Energy is evaluating the potential to produce gas from the Velkerri Shale in the Beetaloo sub-basin. Recent exploration has shown promising signs, finding liquids-rich gas at a shallower depth than previously expected.
Beetaloo was chosen as the first location for the first Strategic Basin Plan to capitalise on industry momentum and to build on existing government initiatives in that region.
This includes the $8.4 million already committed by the Government to accelerate the development of the Beetaloo including conducting additional environmental work and work to ensure the gas development will benefit the Aboriginal Peoples of the Barkly Region and the Northern Territory.
While visiting the NT, Minister Taylor has also held talks with NT Minister for Renewables and Energy Eva Lawler to discuss a Commonwealth-Northern Territory energy and emissions reduction agreement.
The Commonwealth and NT Governments signed an agreement in late 2018 to work together to develop the Territory's gas industry.
The NT is a significant part of Australia's gas industry. Offshore gas processed in Darwin accounts for 11 per cent of Australia's LNG production.
Darwin is also a key LNG export hub, with the onshore processing facility for the Ichthys LNG Project, the Darwin LNG Project, and the world-first Prelude Floating LNG project in the Timor Sea.
Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister Taylor released the Government's comprehensive plan and vision for a gas-fired economic recovery.
This plan is focussed on three action areas:
- unlocking supply,
- ensuring there is efficient transportation,
- and empowering consumers.
In addition to the Strategic Basin Plans, the Government's gas package includes an inaugural National Gas Infrastructure Plan that will identify priority pipelines and critical infrastructure needed for the future.
The Government will also establish an Australian Gas Hub at Wallumbilla to improve price transparency, renegotiate the Heads of Agreement with exporters to strengthen price commitments, and facilitate an industry-led code of conduct to level the playing field in gas contract negotiations.
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