Changes to the Northern Territory’s Petroleum (Environment) Regulations came into effect today, with the State Government aiming to increase the level of transparency around onshore petroleum activity within the region.
The changes implement recommendations made in the ‘Final Report of the independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing’, which was released on 27 March 2018.
The Inquiry investigated the environmental, social and economic risks and impacts of hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional gas reservoirs and associated activities in the Northern Territory. The results of the Inquiry found that the challenges and risks associated with the onshore shale gas industry were manageable if the necessary safeguards were put in place.
The changes today include:
- Ensure the consideration of cumulative impacts (recommendation 14.19).
- Require the publication of all notices and reports of environmental incidents, including reports about reportable incidents (recommendation 14.16).
- Require that Environment Management Plans (EMPs) for the drilling of petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing must be published and available for public comment prior to Ministerial consideration of the activity (recommendation 14.15).
- Require disclosure and publication of chemical use, and that flowback and produced water composition be reported and published (recommendation 7.10).
Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles said the NT Government accepted all 135 recommendations from the Inquiry to develop a transparent, accountable onshore gas industry that will create jobs while protecting the environment.
“Among other things, the changes to regulations mean that, for the first time, Territorians have the opportunity to comment on Environment Management Plans for the drilling of petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing before they are considered by Government,” Mr Vowles said.
The changes also mean operators must now provide more detailed information about their onshore activities which will be made available to the public.
“We are developing the onshore gas industry based on science and in a way that will maximise the benefits and opportunities available to local businesses and communities,” the Minister commented.