Massive gas reserves close to being tapped


2622 Alister Trier OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
“If two percent of that becomes economic, that’s INPEX.”
As Parliament debated gas legislation today Alister Trier (at left), Chief Executive of Department of Primary Industry and Resources, was addressing some 250 mining personnel at the AGES conference in Alice Springs, the biggest in six years.
He was talking about the estimated gas reserves in the Beetaloo Basin, between Tennant Creek and Katherine.
INPEX, of course, is the Japanese company that has just finished building the biggest commercial complex in Darwin, to handle gas from the Timor Sea and ship it out.
The onshore gas Mr Trier was talking about is “right next-door to a pipeline”.
He named his Powerpoint file “implementation” and he maintained his low key while speaking about an issue that had nearly torn the NT apart.
The word fracking did not pass his lips. It is “hydraulic fracturing” that is now entering the phase of “preparing for exploration,” according to the conference program.
Mr Trier ended his speech on a sober note – like the rest of it: “With the concerns of the community, and the issues floating around, there have always been some tensions around these activities.
“I think the [Judge Pepper] report itself was really an excellent piece of work. In my time in government I’ve never seen that cooperation across government, between the different agencies.
“There are still tensions, there’s still people yelling at each other, and the rest of it.
“But comparatively it is a really positive exercise, people working as hard as they can, to get this done.
“The same cooperation has come from the industry, that has really assisted us to a professional and credible way forward, that stands the test.”
It matched the “intent and integrity of the [commission’s] 135 recommendations”.
All of them have been adopted by the government but some are still scheduled to be complied with.
This is a snapshot of the process outlined by Mr Trier.
• Three departments are involved: Chief Minister, Primary Industry and Resources and Environment and Natural Resources.
• Seven instrumentalities have recommendations to be responsible for: Primary Industry and Resources (55), Chief Minister (35), Environment and Natural Resources (23), Trade Business and Innovation (12), Infrastructure Planning and Logistics (6), Treasury and Finance (3), Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (1).
• There are 31 recommendations that must be completed prior to environment management plans (drilling of petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing) could be considered.
• Petroleum Act: Judicial Review and Fit and Proper Person Test. (Being debated in Parliament today.)
• Petroleum (Environment) Regulations: Amended Dec 2018 – EMPs for drilling/fracking for public comment; cumulative impacts; Publishing reportable and recordable incidents; Publishing hydraulic fracturing fluid composition, flowback and produced water.
• Water Act: Removed exemption for mining and petroleum activities – they now require water licences and permits to take water.
• Environment Protection Authority Act: Enable appointment of two new members of the EPA Board to have expertise for assessing petroleum matters and to provide advice to Minister; enable EPA Board to provide advice to any Minister about any proposed plan, program or other measure for managing the environment.
• Establishing a separation between the Department responsible for regulating environmental impacts and risks and the Department responsible for promoting the industry.
• Transfer of the Administrative Arrangement Orders to give the Minister for Environment the authority to make decisions under the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations and the Environmental Offences under the Petroleum Act.
• Baseline environmental monitoring (methane, water and weeds).
• Developing Codes of Practice for Well Operations, Surface Activities, Wastewater Management and Methane Emissions.
• Compliance and Monitoring Strategy.
• Reserved Blocks (no go zones).
• Statutory Land Access Agreements.
• SREBA Development (social, cultural, environmental and economic).
• Cost recovery model.
• Local Business Development and Employment.
• Territory Benefit Policy and preparing business for industry.
• Engagement with Universities for research and skills training.
• Planning for industry: wastewater treatment facilities, service hub facilities, transport corridors, pipelines etc.
• Industry prepares Environment Management Plans – expected to be lodged within the next four weeks.
• On ground activity recommences in 2019 – this paragraph was in bold in the powerpoint document (drilling, hydraulic fracturing, seismic survey).
• Balance of recommendations (about 90) to be completed by 2021-prior to production licences being granted.
UPDATE Wednesday 10.50am
Northern Territory communities will suffer should the NT Government be allowed to get away with its attempts to fast track fracking in the Beetaloo Basin, says Graeme Sawyer of the Protect Country Alliance.
It was “deeply disappointing” that Trier had been spruiking gas reserves when there was overwhelming community opposition to fracking.
“This entire process has been rushed because the NT Government lacks the creative grey matter to come up with a solution to the Territory’s economic woes that doesn’t involve injecting poisonous fluids through groundwater.
“Lessons from Queensland show us that the economic benefits brought from the fracking industry are fleeting, employment is minimal and temporary compared to other, less destructive industries like tourism, which the NT would be better off focusing on,” says Mr Sawyer.
“Communities between Tennant Creek and Katherine have been totally ignored while the government has fast tracked fracking.
“There has been no meaningful engagement and consultation in the regional and remote towns and communities set to be impacted first hand. These communities and their businesses need to understand how the NT Government is going to protect them from the economic disaster fracking brought to towns like Miles in QLD.”


  1. Alister Trier is also a board member of the Energy Club NT that promotes networking and development of the energy resources, including unconventional petroleum in the NT. Industry enjoys a very cosy relationship with government.

  2. “There are still tensions, there’s still people yelling at each other, and the rest of it.” Alister Trier says.
    When there are so many people across the world saying that any further development of carbon based energy is a very bad idea are you surprised?
    It is not just that there are risks to water and disruption to the physical environment at a local level. There is clear evidence of increasing climate disruption – heavy rain and wind events in one part, droughts in another, acidification of the oceans everywhere.
    When you – industry and governments – are not listening there is not much else we can do but SHOUT!

  3. @ Richard Bentley: What clear evidence of more extreme weather events is there? Please let the IPCC know because they have not been able to find any.
    And yes, natural gas is carbon-based but produces substantially less CO2 than coal.
    Are you suggesting we should jump from a world in which only a few per cent of the energy worldwide is supplied from renewables straight into a 100% renewables scenario?
    Have you thought about at whose expense such a drastic shift would come?

  4. I recently attended a seminar in Adelaide where an economist indicated the cost of transition to 100% renewable was one 7th of the loss of production and damages cost if we do not.
    So yes, Dave Richards, I am suggesting we transition very rapidly.

  5. @ Dave Richards: Actuaries are not generally noted for being one-eyed greenies, but they seem to agree that extreme weather events are increasing in frequency, and insurance companies are already increasing premiums in consequence.

  6. @ Dave Richards: “New data suggests the pipeline of wind, solar and storage projects in Australia is nearing 100GW – possibly enough for the country to go 100% renewables.”
    Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy 21-03-2019.

  7. @ Alex Hope.
    I am surprised what actuaries think amounts to real evidence, especially when they are demanding more money on account of their perceptions.
    The IPCC itself says it has no conclusive evidence of more extreme weather events.
    People have always been subjective about weather, and in the current atmos-fear, have become even more so.
    The idea that there have been more hurricanes or worse ones in the USA has been refuted, and in Australia’s case our weather records are not only extremely short in duration but many old records have been altered by the Bureau of Meteorology.
    We should also consider the world’s population has tripled in recent times so it may be there are more people around to notice and experience extreme events rather than more such events per se.
    As for the idea of 100% renewable energy either now or soon, it is neither desirable or possible … for reasons you can observe as the sun goes down tonight.

  8. @ Dave Richards: Having a similar view as Dave in the cataclysmic climate catastrophe debate, my concern is a practical one.
    These massive NT gas supplies are there to be exploited, sold to the ever-practical and innovative Japanese, who have already shown their resourcefulness in the aftermath of their nuclear reactor disaster.
    In an NT that is a financial basket case, the temptation to sell off the gas will outweigh the NT’s desire or ability to use it in resourceful cheap energy production.
    When you add to this equation Australia’s Green policy mindset that freezes our mining of gas and uranium, it becomes painfully obvious have set ourselves up as lame ducks, simply a Land Down Under that is seen as a goldmine of fuels by other smarter countries.
    And the big problem is that our governments will remain frozen like a rabbit in the spotlight, unable to use a sensible mix of fossil fuels and renewables for cheaper energy while the smarter countries laugh all the way to our goldmine.


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