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Explorers first identified Beetaloo oil and gas development prospects in the 1980s. Observations of surface oil shows and intermittent exploration activity has been carried out since that time.

Operators have drilled several wells in the Beetaloo to begin to understand the extent of gas in the region. Results to date suggest that the Beetaloo is one of the world’s most exciting gas resources. However, understanding the exact nature of the resources in the sub-basin requires more exploration activity.

In 2016, the NT Government introduced a moratorium on unconventional gas activities in the Territory. This stopped exploration activities in the Beetaloo.

The NT Government established an independent inquiry to investigate the environmental, social and economic risks and impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

The latest and best-available scientific data from a wide range of sources informed the inquiry. It found that stakeholders could manage any challenges and risks.

Following the inquiry, in 2018, the NT Government lifted the moratorium. Exploration in the Beetaloo recommenced.

Exploration for oil and gas within the Beetaloo requires a petroleum exploration permit. Companies tender for a permit through acreage released by the NT Government.

Successful applicants receive permits after the applicant, the pastoralist and the land manager reach an agreement.

Within the Beetaloo, this includes agreement between the Northern Land Council (NLC) and the permit applicant. The NLC is the statutory representative body for the Traditional Owners of the land.

These processes require full consultation with affected Indigenous communities. They must give their free and informed consent to any activities on their land.

Several companies hold petroleum exploration permits across the Beetaloo and the adjoining McArthur Basin. Companies who are active in the Beetaloo have an important role to play in its development.

The following companies, or their subsidiaries, hold or have interests in petroleum exploration permits in the region:

  • Armour Energy
  • Empire Energy Group
  • Falcon Oil and Gas Australia
  • Hancock Prospecting
  • INPEX Oil and Gas Australia (under application)
  • Origin Energy
  • Pangaea Resources
  • Santos
  • Tamboran Resources
  • The Energy and Minerals Group
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