Santos gets nod for Northern Territory onshore shale gas exploration

Santos Ltd., Adelaide, has received approval from the Northern Territory government for the resumption of drilling in its onshore McArthur basin shale gas exploration program.

Santos Ltd., Adelaide, has received approval from the Northern Territory government for the resumption of drilling in its onshore McArthur basin shale gas exploration program.

It is the first environmental management plan to be awarded for onshore shale gas exploration in the Northern Territory since the drilling moratorium was lifted in early 2018.

Specifically, the approval is for the drilling of the Tanumbirini 2H and Inacumba 1/1H wells in exploration permit EP161 in the basin east of Daly Waters.

Santos has 75% interest in the block.

Approval for the resumption of drilling follows last month’s approval for civil works at and around the well locations as well as for the acquisition of 2D seismic data.

Santos drilled Tanumbirini-1 in 2014 and found encouraging gas indications.

The nearly 2-year moratorium and subsequent 16-month implementation process has been completed after the Northwest Territory government enacted the recommendations of its scientific inquiry into onshore hydraulic fracturing.

The recommendations implemented include the creation of detailed codes of practice, the shifting of responsibility for approvals to the environment minister, improvements to the transparency and disclosure requirements, amendments to the Water Act, and the release of a series of “no-go zones” for oil and gas activity in the territory.

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