It is important that regulatory processes both protect against risks and enable development to occur.
To ensure that industry and government can efficiently navigate these processes, we are:
- working with the NT Government to establish new bilateral agreements, including single touch environmental approvals, under national environmental law
- producing geological and environmental data, tools and knowledge across the Beetaloo through the Geological and Bioregional Assessment (GBA) program
- supporting CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) activities
- negotiating a Bilateral Energy and Emissions Reduction Agreement with a Beetaloo focus
- supporting gas operators to understand their regulatory requirements through the Major Projects Facilitation Agency (MPFA)
Operators consider the global context when making Beetaloo investment decisions. Competitive business settings and efficient regulatory frameworks will enhance the Beetaloo’s appeal as an investment destination. There is a role for all governments to ensure regulations fit their purpose.
Onshore gas development in the NT has been the focus of several government-instigated reviews. The latest was the independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs in the NT (the Pepper Inquiry). It considered whether the risks of unconventional gas developments were tolerable.
The NT Government accepted all of the inquiry’s recommendations. This was part of its 2018 decision to remove the moratorium on unconventional onshore gas developments. At 13 January 2021, 63 of the recommendations have been completed, 73 have commenced and 2 are yet to commence.
Implementation of these recommendations has imposed strict conditions on unconventional gas development. These conditions lie parallel with regulations under the EPBC that protect matters of national environmental significance.
Efficient and effective environmental assessment and approvals are important for resource development in the Beetaloo Sub-basin. This is why the Australian Government and the NT Government are working to establish new bilateral agreements. This will include single touch environmental approvals, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Further information about new bilateral agreements is on the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.
The government’s GBA program is producing geological and environmental data from across the Beetaloo. This data helps to enforce environmental regulation compliance. This data can help to deliver faster and better regulatory decisions. It is imperative that we use this data to its fullest extent.
The government’s investment in GISERA complements this work. It brings to bear the CSIRO’s scientific rigour to better understand key environmental and social impacts of gas development. Critically, this research is driven by local communities. It is communicated back to those communities in a language and a format that is readily understood.
These research efforts have improved local communities’ understanding of the potential impact of Beetaloo gas development. This includes understanding the impact on groundwater and methane emissions. This will also inform the regulatory frameworks administered by both the Australian and NT Governments.
Gas supply is crucial to the government’s economic recovery agenda. It will be a pillar of many of the bilateral energy and emissions agreements between the government and state and territory governments. These agreements seek to improve, across the country:
- energy security
They will also support the energy market transition to lower emissions technologies.
The Australian-NT Government bilateral agreement will include elements designed to bring Beetaloo gas on line.
In particular, the Australian Government will seek to implement a world-class regulatory environment that:
- manages environmental and social risks
- makes the most of available data
- minimises costs to operators
A priority of this agreement is using data collected through implementation of the Pepper Inquiry’s recommendations to reduce red and green tape.
Confusing or misinterpreted regulatory pathways can be a key source of delays or red tape costs. The Australian and NT Governments are addressing these issues through facilitation services.
The MPFA, in partnership with the NT Government, will establish predictable, clear and efficient regulatory pathways for Beetaloo gas operators.