The Territory: It's a gas!


The political chest beating about the great future of gas in the NT is reaching a new crescendo: In a joint media release, resources ministers Paul Kirby (Territory, at left) and Matt Canavan (Federal, at right) are touting “frontier exploration scopes exciting new resource reserves in the NT’s Barkly region”.
Not hesitating to use the F-word (fracking) Mr Kirby says: “Since we lifted the moratorium on fracking in the NT, we’ve seen significant industry interest in the South Nicholson Basin and the Beetaloo Sub-Basin, including recent commitments into frontier acreage.
“Just this year, around 13,000 square kilometres of new exploration licence applications have been made by industry over previous vacant ground in the Barkly area, this creates jobs and is good for the local economy.”
Senator Canavan says a new seismic survey scoping out the potential for new gas, liquids and other mineral resources in the Barkly region wraps up this week, “paving the way for further resource exploration.
“The 820 kilometre survey covers ground which has seen little exploration in the past. It will fill in the ‘missing link’ between Mount Isa in Queensland and the Beetaloo Sub‑Basin in the NT,” he says in the release.
This has the potential to deliver 178,000 Petajoules of shale gas, which is larger than any of the North West Shelf conventional gas resources: “It’s exciting to have a region that could promise the same potential resources.
“Over 25 years a moderate scale of onshore gas development in the NT could create more than 6,500 jobs and be worth more than $9bn nationally.
“Mines in the Barkly region already contribute $17m annually to the Australian economy and the mining industry in the NT employs 4500 people. With this new data, we could expand this significantly and create more jobs for Northern Australia.”
Mr Kirby says in the release: “Recent industry interest in the Beetaloo area, including new drilling activity, showed the areas have huge potential.
“The Federal Government has contributed $4.5m to the survey under the Exploring for the Future Program, with an additional $140,000 from the NT Geological Survey. It commenced in September 2019 close to the Queensland border (near Camooweal) and will extend to near Elliot in the NT.
“The aim of Exploring for the Future is to provide new understanding of mineral, energy and groundwater resources potential in Northern Australia,” Minister Canavan says.
The acquired data from the survey will be processed and released in the first half of 2020, says the release.
UPDATE 12.30am
Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyers says the Northern Territory should follow the UK’s lead placing an unlimited moratorium on fracking “after the latest in a series of fracking-linked earthquakes.
“The government is gambling with people’s safety by allowing the fracking industry to run rampant across the Territory,” he says in a media release.
“The UK decision to ban fracking is an example of a government truly responding to the demands of its constituents, rather than those of multinational companies. The Gunner Government would do well to follow suit.
“If unconventional gas fracking is allowed to proceed in the Territory at the rate planned, it will create an increased risk to public safety, just as the UK experienced when fracking was let loose.
“Fracking the Territory will also lead to an increased risk of surface and groundwater pollution. It will also industrialise the outback beyond recognition, totally changing the lifestyle and character of the Territory that so many love,” says Mr Sawyers.
“If the Gunner Government is to stand a chance at being re-elected, it too should listen to its people, and re-introduce the moratorium on fracking in the public interest.”


  1. Gas is well (pun intended) on the way to being a stranded asset.
    It is not “clean”.
    It will survive as an interim back up fuel for a short while.
    See the analysis.

  2. The SREBA draft report can be commented on by the public until February 14.
    It is supposed to put in place environmental procedures and protections once fracking goes into full production.
    Since fracking is already under way, albeit at the “exploration” phase, it’s really too little, far too late.
    As far as I can tell, there are no limits to how many wells can be drilled for exploration, so it seems that the gas companies can go on drilling to their hearts’ content and keep putting production wells in place without having to worry about the environment, as long as the wells are called “exploration” wells – we all know there’s no difference.


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