Energy services

Outcome: Project development is facilitated through efficient administration of petroleum titles and assessment of petroleum exploration applications.

Energy Management: Advance the NT’s economic development and energy security through administration of exploration licences, including land access issues and geothermal and petroleum interests, consistent with government policy directions.

Monitor petroleum exploration activities to ensure regulatory compliance and enhance community understanding of the regulatory framework.

2017-18 Actual 2018-19 Budget 2018-19 Actual
Energy services   
Energy title application and report assessments within 60 days 53%1 75% 44%
Operational sites visited 65%2 85% 18%

1The moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, from September 2016 to April 2018, caused delays to assessments, which compounded over time. The NT Government announced it had accepted all 135 recommendations of the Final Report of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry and lifted the moratorium on 17 April 2018. The percentage of applications received after this date and assessed within 60 days in 2018‑19 was 63 per cent. The older applications completed that year have altered the actual figure.

2Sites visited versus total number of sites with active work scopes, producing fields and active pipelines. Government released a Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry Implementation Plan in July 2018, which required 31 recommendations to be completed before exploration approvals could be considered by government. These recommendations were completed in July 2019. As such, in 2018‑19 there were no new on‑ground exploration activities that required site visits and inspections, which resulted in a lower than projected number of petroleum operations sites visited. Site visits in 2018‑19 were focused on existing pipeline operations and a petroleum production field.

Promote and facilitate the development of primary industries and resources

  • Implemented more than 30 recommendations assigned to the department of the 135 recommendations from the Final Report of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry to ensure an enhanced legislative and policy framework was in place by year’s end to allow petroleum exploration activities to recommence in the NT.
  • Assessed and/or approved activities, as required under legislation, for petroleum exploration and production, including:
    • 12 environment management plans (EMP)
    • two drilling programs
    • one well suspension program
    • four activity programs
    • two pipeline applications for commissioning, start up and operations
    • three infield operations
    • two exploration permit renewals
    • one exploration permit transfer
    • 42 suspensions and/or extensions of work programs
    • 17 variations of work programs
    • 14 annual reports for permit and licence holders’ activities on their tenure.

Use regulation of our industries and resources as a foundation for appropriate economic development

  • Completed legislative reforms to the Petroleum Act 1984 and Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 in accordance with recommendations from the Final Report of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry, which included:
    • Requiring a ‘fit and proper person’ test for the granting of exploration permits and licences.
    • Enabling open standing for judicial review for certain decisions made under the Petroleum Act 1984 and the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations.
    • Establishing regulation making powers to enforce the Code of Practice: Onshore Petroleum Activities and establishing penalties for non‑compliance.
    • Requiring all draft EMPs for drilling petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing be made available for public comment.
    • Publishing all public comments received on draft EMPs.
    • Ensuring consideration is given to the cumulative impacts of activities proposed in a draft EMP.
  • Publishing all notices and reports of environmental incidents and reportable incidents.
  • Requiring exploration permit holders to disclose and publish details of all hydraulic fracturing fluids proposed for use, along with reporting and publishing flowback and produced water composition.
  • Transferred ministerial responsibility for environmental approvals and environmental compliance of the onshore petroleum industry in the NT from the Minister for Primary Industry and Resources to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources. This transfer is in accordance with recommendations from the Final Report of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry.
  • Engaged CSIRO to undertake baseline landscape methane monitoring for a six-month period in the Beetaloo Sub-basin across various pastoral leases, in accordance with pre‑exploration recommendations from the Final Report of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry.

Build capability, adopt contemporary technology and improve service delivery

  • Continued to develop, populate and test the Energy Division Information System to securely capture tenure information, as well as business processes and procedures required to effectively administer statutory requirements.
  • Developed a framework for assessment of well operation management plans.


Last updated: 23 October 2019

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