GOVERNMENT plans to accelerate gas exploration and development in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo sub-basin to create thousands of jobs, provide significant economic benefits to the region and ensure Australia remains a world leader in the production of natural gas.

Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the Government’s approach would speed up exploration and production in the Beetaloo by around two years.

“The Government will provide up to $50 million for exploration that occurs before June 30, 2022, allowing the benefits of this important asset to be realised sooner,” Minister Pitt said.

“The funding will fast track drilling by providing grants to cover 25% of eligible exploration costs, capped at $7.5 million per well and three wells per exploration venture.

“The Beetaloo Basin has been described as the ‘hottest play on the planet’ with the potential to be a world-class gas resource, transform the Northern Territory economy and generate 6,000 jobs by 2040.

“The Northern Territory’s Geological Survey estimates the sub-basin could hold more than 200,000 petajoules of gas. Even if only a very conservative 10 per cent of that gas was recovered, it could still supply Australia’s domestic gas demand for more than 10 years.

“Industry analysis estimates the development of the sub-basin could increase economic activity by between $18 billion and $36.8 billion over the next 20 years,” Minister Pitt said.

CLP Senator for the Northern Territory, Dr Sam McMahon said the strategy is focused on unlocking the full potential of the Beetaloo.

“By working together with the Northern Territory Government, gas operators, and local and Indigenous communities, we can unlock the Beetaloo’s enormous potential and realise the full benefits over the next 40 years or more,” Senator McMahon said.

“I am very pleased that our plan will ensure development of the Beetaloo benefits local and Indigenous communities with jobs and business opportunities for the region.

“The Government has invested $1.9 million to develop a Beetaloo Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy, establishing a $2.2 million Barkly Business Hub, and will work to ensure that Traditional Owners in the Beetaloo are properly supported.”

The Beetaloo Strategic Basin Plan is a key early step in the Gas-fired Recovery agenda, and is the first of five plans to be delivered under the $28.3 million Strategic Basins Plan programme announced in the October Budget.