Petroleum acreage releases

Amendments to the Petroleum Act 1984 (1 January 2014) allow for the controlled release of vacant land and the government to accept multiple applications for exploration permits on the same acreage, providing for a more competitive assessment process.

Release areas vary in size and the level of existing geological knowledge and, may be covered by the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 or Native Title Act 1993.

Release areas are supported by existing well and seismic data together with regional geological data.

The Petroleum Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2019, will amend the Petroleum Act 1984 to implement recommendation 14.2 of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry Final Report and will require that:

  • the public and stakeholders be notified and consulted about any proposed land release
  • when deciding whether to release land, the following must be considered:
    • prospectivity of the land
    • co-existence between exploration and existing or proposed industries in the area
    • whether the land is an area of intensive agriculture, high ecological value, high scenic value, culturally significant or strategically significant
  • a statement of reasons is published stating why the land has been released and why co-existence is deemed possible.

There are no current petroleum acreage releases in the Northern Territory.


For application and legislation enquiries, email

Last updated: 30 October 2020

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