Onshore Petroleum Exploration & Production
- The Northern Territory covers 1,346,200 square kilometres, one-sixth of the Australian landmass.
- Vast areas are under-explored, with approximately one exploration well per 11,500 square kilometres.
- There are two large producing oil and gas fields at Mereenie and Palm Valley in the Amadeus Basin.
- In the Amadeus Basin, exploration density is one wildcat well per 5,300 square kilometres (1.3 million acres).
- The Basin holds huge areas of untested potential.
- Large-scale petroleum exploration commenced in the Northern Territory in the 1950s when extensive regional gravity and aeromagnetic surveys were conducted.
- The first onshore well (Ooraminna-1) in the Northern Territory indicating petroleum was drilled in 1963, and produced a small gas flow.
- Significant discoveries were made during the 1960s.
- Development of the industry has occurred in the last 15 years.
- Palm Valley gas field and the Mereenie oil and gas field were brought onstream in 1983 and 1984 respectively, resulting in the supply of reasonably priced natural gas to major towns in the Territory.
There are currently three applications in the Right to Negotiate process. There are another three advertised with no native title claims. These are currently offered for grant.
- The Northern Territory has legislated to validate titles which were granted on pastoral leases up until 23 December 1996, which is the date of the Wik High Court decision.
- The Northern Territory Government has created a Lands and Mining Tribunal which will deal with a range of land access matters, including determination of unresolved negotiations between Native Title claimants and mining and extractives title applicants, pursuant to the Mining Act and the Petroleum Act. It will also determine unresolved compensation claims.
- Some permit applicants are seeking joint venture participants to help explore their permit areas.
- Oil is produced from the Mereenie field.
- Natural gas is produced at Mereenie and at Palm Valley.
- Both fields are west of Alice Springs in the Amadeus Basin.
- Gas has been discovered, but not yet developed at Dingo, Weaber and West Walker fields.
Production and Exploration
- Oil production from the Mereenie field was at an average rate of 1,358 barrels (216 cubic metres) per day in the 2000/2001 Financial Year.
- The oil is transported to Alice Springs by pipeline and then to South Australia’s Port Stanvac refinery by rail.
- Gas from the Mereenie and Palm Valley fields is piped to Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, McArthur River Mine and Darwin, principally for electricity generation.
- Both fields produced about 50.2 million cubic feet of gas (1.704 million cubic metres) per day for sale in the 2000/2001 Financial Year.
- Prospective areas in the Amadeus, Georgina, Eromanga/Pedirka and Wiso basins are available.
- Companies can apply for exploration permits at any time.
- A number of publications are available to assist companies to review opportunities.
- Major reviews of the Pedirka/Eromanga, Amadeus and Georgina Basins are complete and are available on CD from NT Department of Mines and Energy.
- Additional journal publications are also available from NT Department of Mines and Energy. This includes papers from the APPEA (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association) Conference and AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) journals.
- Recent reviews have increased acreage uptake but numerous opportunities remain in all basins.
- Annual exploration effort in terms of the number of kilometres of seismic data gathered and number of wells drilled since 1984 is shown in the tables below.
NT ONSHORE SEISMIC ACQUIRED (kilometres)
NUMBER OF ONSHORE WELLS DRILLED