Exploration to begin for onshore gas
All recommendations in Table 16.1 of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing’s (Inquiry) final report have now been completed. This means the Northern Territory Government can assess applications for drilling of petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing.
Government has also implemented the Inquiry’s recommendation about no-go zones (reserved blocks).
The Inquiry determined there should be areas that are off limits to any petroleum activities due to these areas’ unique values or their important role in providing environmental, social, health and cultural benefits to surrounding communities.
The areas to be declared as reserved blocks under s9 of the Petroleum Act are: areas of high tourism value, towns and residential areas (including areas that have assets of strategic importance to nearby residential areas), national parks, conservation reserves, areas of high ecological value, areas of cultural significance and Indigenous Protected Areas.
The declaration of no-go zones under the Petroleum Act will occur in a staged process, with 49% of the Territory identified to be protected from petroleum activity. Eighty seven areas will be declared Reserved Blocks as a priority as part of Tranche 1 of declaring areas no go zones. This is about 11% of the NT. The remaining areas for declaration (Tranche 2, 3 and 4) requires notifications to park or reserve’s Board of Management, negotiation with a petroleum company if the area interacts with a granted exploration permit and consultation with Land Councils [respectively].
The Petroleum Reserved Block Policy, areas to be declared and maps containing this detail is available from the NT Government website.
The Monitoring and Compliance Strategy has also been released which outlines how key Government agencies will undertake active compliance, monitoring and surveillance to detect any non-compliances in the gas industry.
For information on progress towards the implementation of each of the 135 recommendations from the Inquiry – including the completion of the 31 recommendations required for exploration – go to the Hydraulic Fracturing website.