Oil and gas

Location: Northern Territory, Australia

Sector: Oil and gas

Investment type: Mergers and acquisitions; joint ventures; equity investment; financial or management partnerships; establishment of new or branch operations

Project status: Ongoing exploration and appraisal; ongoing production and expansion

The opportunity

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.

Onshore farm-in

The promise of large-scale onshore commercial gas production is highlighted by 2019 exploration programs proposed by Origin Energy and Santos.

Opportunities may exist to partner with junior to mid-tier onshore petroleum explorers. In addition, the Territory Government formally undertakes petroleum acreage releases. The next acreage release will be considered in 2020.

LNG expansion

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.

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 in Darwin Harbour.

Aerial view of onshore processing plant

Gas-based processing and manufacturing

Dedicated land is available for gas-based processing and manufacturing industries near existing LNG facilities in Darwin. Opportunities include:

  • manufacturing of methane-based products including methanol, ammonia and ammonium nitrate
  • urea and other fertilisers that use local phosphate deposits
  • energy intensive industries
  • condensate refining
  • production of ethane-based petrochemicals
  • the emerging hydrogen industry.

Gas pipeline infrastructure

The Territory's gas reserves were connected to eastern Australian markets for the first time with the Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) commencing operations in January 2019.

Options for expansion and extension of the NGP, and a pipeline from Beetaloo to Darwin, present further investment opportunities. Studies are currently 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 specifically applicable to the oil and gas industry. The recent 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.

Contact details

Kevin Fong
Director Oil and Gas
Department of Trade, Business and Innovation

Phone: +61 8 8946 9540
gasdevelopment@nt.gov.au

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.