The Federal Government has entered three grant agreements worth a combined $19.4 million to support gas exploration in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Sub-Basin.
Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said under the Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program, the grants will support exploration company Imperial Oil & Gas to continue drilling three petroleum exploration wells.
We are now getting on with the job of opening up the Beetaloo as part of the Strategic Basins Plan and these grants will assist in that important process,” Minister Pitt said.
“Australian gas is in high demand domestically and internationally and it’s important that we work to get new gas production online.”
He said the Beetaloo Sub-basin has the potential to be a world class gas resource, that could create thousands of jobs and bolster domestic and international gas supply.
“Development and investment in the Beetaloo could be a game-changer for the Northern Territory, creating up to 6,000 jobs by 2040, supporting industrial diversification and providing stable tax and royalty streams for years to come,” Minister Pitt said.
However, the decision to award the grants has been criticised by environmentalists, calling it a slap in the face for Territorians.
The Environment Centre NT said the same grants were struck down by the Federal Court last year after a challenge brought by the Environment Centre NT. The judge found that Minister Pitt’s decision to award the earlier grants had been legally “unreasonable and capricious”.
Kirsty Howey, Co-Director of the Environment Centre NT said re-awarding the grants goes against public expectations about how taxpayer money should be spent.
“Government should be supporting jobs in long-term, sustainable industries, not handing out support to its fossil fuel executive mates.”
The Environment Centre NT has recently lodged a submission concerning new fracking plans of Imperial Oil and Gas. Imperial’s own Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the project revealed that, from exploration alone, the greenhouse gas emissions would be equal to 4.6 per cent of the Territory’s entire emissions.
Kirsty Howey said, “Imperial are seeking to extend their reach over the Northern Territory with these new fracking proposals. They have no plans to offset their emissions—and these are just exploration emissions, let alone what the emissions from production would be.”