NT’s Beetaloo Sub-basin to be assessed for gas potential

The Beetaloo Sub-basin in the Northern Territory has been selected as the third and final region to be assessed by the Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program, a decision made following the move to lift the territory’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

A 28,000-square-kilometre area southeast of Katherine, the Beetaloo Sub-basin was chosen for its high prospectivity, demonstrated shale gas flows and its proximity to new pipeline infrastructure — all of which make it a candidate to deliver new gas supplies to the east coast gas market.

Work on the Beetaloo Sub-basin assessment will begin in mid-2018.

Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg commented: “The program will assess the environmental safety of extracting gas from the region as the Coalition Government seeks to ensure that Australia can access our plentiful resources in a responsible way.”

The independent scientific studies will assess the geology, water quantity and quality of surface and groundwater, as well as protected environmental assets to determine the potential impacts and environmental safety of shale and tight gas developments.

This work will directly contribute to the Strategic Regional Environmental Baseline Assessment (SREBA), which was a key recommendation of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory.

The $30.4 million Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program is part of the ‘Towards a New Energy Future’ package in the 2017-18 Budget. The studies will be conducted by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO, supported by the Bureau of Meteorology and managed by the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said initial estimates suggested the NT could be sitting on a massive gas resource of more than 200 years’ supply.

“That huge quantity of gas means jobs and investment in the North,” Canavan said. “It’s not only the jobs involved in extracting the gas. Access to this gas could also attract new industries such as manufacturing and refining and create more new jobs in Northern Australia.”

The Beetaloo Sub-basin is the third region to be assessed as a potential source of gas by the Australian Government. Assessments have commenced in the Cooper Basin in Queensland and South Australia and the Isa Superbasin in Queensland.

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