Australian Northern Territory presses on with fracking regulation

Australia on Globe

Speaking at a recent LNG conference in Perth, Australia, Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister Peter Styles said that the Alan Hawke report into hydraulic fracturing, which argued that shale industry in the area can be developed safely with proper regulation, would go before Parliament before the end of term.

The report was released in February and is currently open to public consultation.

“The scientific community is of the view that if you have good regulatory processes in place, fracking is feasible,” Styles said. “We want to make sure that we have the world’s best practices in place to ensure that we can continue to get shale gas as part of the economic development of the Northern Territory.”

In recent months there has been a lot of interest in shale development in the Northern Territory, in particular in the Beetaloo basin, with investors like the late Aubrey McClendon and the private equity investor Energy & Minerals Group (EMG) allegedly pursuing deals in the basin.

The actual size of shale resources in the Northern Territory is not yet known but estimates vary from 200-trillion cubic feet (tcf) to 240 tcf of gas in the McArthur Basin alone. The McArthur basin, where the Beetaloo basin is located, extends across the north-eastern Northern Territory, stretching over the border into the state of Queensland.

Australia, the home to the world’s sixth-largest shale oil reserves and seventh-biggest tranche of shale gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), is an attractive market due to its proximity to the energy-hungry Asian markets, but until recently, shale industry was overshadowed by the well-developed coalbed-methane industry. However, the discovery of the shale deposits in the McArthur Basin, which according to Deloitte are larger than Australia’s known conventional gas resources, might change this dynamic.

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