The Northern Territory has a long-established gas industry highlighted by production in the onshore Amadeus basin in Central Australia, and offshore through the Bayu-Undan, Ichthys and Blacktip fields.
Recent discoveries in the onshore Beetaloo Sub-basin offer more than 25 000 square kilometres in geologically continuous unconventional shales within stacked petroleum plays, comparable to the United States’ giant Marcellus Shale.
Industry exploration to date indicates a ‘P50 gas-in-place resource’ of at least 500 trillion cubic feet in one shale layer alone in the Beetaloo Sub-basin.
On the back of this potential, the Northern Territory Government plans to diversify and grow the gas industry including the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export hub in Darwin, a gas-based processing and manufacturing sector, pipelines and infrastructure, and the service and supply sector.
The promise of large-scale onshore commercial gas production is highlighted by current exploration activities and programs proposed by Origin Energy, Santos, Armour Energy and Empire Energy.
Opportunities exist for companies to partner with junior to mid-tier onshore petroleum explorers to bring these resources in to production. In addition, the Territory Government formally undertakes petroleum acreage releases.
Darwin is a globally-significant LNG hub and home to the Darwin LNG and Ichthys LNG projects. These facilities operate three LNG trains with a combined production capacity of 12.6 million tonnes per annum. Expansion of these facilities is likely with brownfields sites now available for five more LNG trains.
In March 2021, Santos announced its decision to proceed with the US$3.6 billion Barossa offshore joint venture and an associated US$600 million investment to extend the life of the Santos-operated Darwin LNG plant for around 20 years.
Prospective onshore gas resources complement existing production from offshore fields and could support increased LNG exports from Darwin, contribute to Australia’s energy security through supply of natural gas to east coast markets, and underwrite a new manufacturing sector on Darwin Harbour.
Gas-based processing and manufacturing
Dedicated land is available near existing LNG facilities in Darwin for low emissions industrial processes, renewables and gas-based manufacturing including:
- carbon capture use and storage
- minerals processing
- advanced manufacturing.
Gas pipeline infrastructure
The Territory's gas reserves are connected to eastern Australian markets through the Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP).
Options for expansion and extension of the NGP, and a pipeline from Beetaloo to Darwin, present further investment opportunities. Studies are underway to define a pipeline corridor from the Beetaloo Sub-basin to Darwin.
Service and supply
Darwin is the service and supply hub for four LNG trains - two at Ichthys LNG and one each at Darwin LNG and the offshore Prelude Floating LNG facility.
As onshore exploration and appraisal activities ramp up, significant investment opportunities in associated service and supply sectors in Darwin and regional centres will emerge.
Darwin has a highly-skilled workforce to support the oil and gas industry. The completion of construction of the Ichthys LNG Project provides a valuable legacy for future investors with an industry-ready workforce capable of delivering world-class oil and gas projects.
Charles Darwin University, with campuses in Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine, is the home of the Energy and Resources Institute and the North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas, offering training, research and development capacity to support new projects.
Executive Director Investment Attraction Investment Territory
Disclaimer: This web page includes information provided by third parties. The information is general in nature and is for information purposes only. The Northern Territory Government makes no representation about the veracity or accuracy of information provided by third parties. You must rely on your own due diligence before proceeding. You should consider seeking independent professional advice.