Santos has received approval for the first environmental management plan (EMP) that has been awarded for onshore shale gas exploration in the Northern Territory since a fracking ban was lifted last year.
The company’s drilling EMP was approved by NT Environmental and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler.
It covers the Tanumbirini 2H and Inacumba 1/1H well in exploration permit 161 in the McArthur Basin, east of Daly Waters, a permit which Santos operates and has a 75 per cent interest in.
The resumption of drilling activities in the basin follows last month’s approval of the EMP for civil works at and around the well locations, as well as the acquisition of 2D seismic data.
Santos chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher said approval of the drilling EMP was an important milestone that cleared the way to restart onshore shale gas exploration in the resource-rich McArthur Basin.
“We drilled Tanumbirini 1 in 2014 and liked what we saw, so we are delighted to be in a position to resume exploration drilling,” Gallagher said.
“Local communities desperately need the jobs, small business opportunities and investment the onshore natural gas industry will bring, and with the new regulatory regime in place to ensure that the environment and water resources are protected, we’ll be moving as quickly as possible and doing our best to beat the approaching wet season.”
Santos is completing drilling of the Dukas 1 well in the Amadeus Basin. The next drilling location for the Ensign 965 rig in the Cooper Basin will depend on the rig release date from Dukas 1.