Changes to the Regulation of the Northern Territory’s Onshore Gas Industry

Issued 29 May 2019

The Northern Territory Government has implemented changes to the regulation of the onshore petroleum industry to protect the environment, ensure accountable industry practice and provide transparency and clarity in the decision making process. Download detailed information here PDF (5.8 MB)

Key changes have been implemented in accordance with recommendations set out in the independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory (the Inquiry) and include:

  • the Northern Territory Minister for Environment and Natural Resources is now responsible for the regulation of environmental management of the onshore petroleum industry
  • water use for onshore petroleum industry activities is now regulated through the Water Act 1992 with specific requirements for petroleum activities
  • a legally enforceable Code of Practice clearly defines standards and requirements of petroleum industry operations
  • publication of draft Environment Management Plans (EMP) for public comment for the drilling of petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing prior to consideration by the Minister.

New elements of the assessment of EMPs include:

  • publication of EMPs for drilling petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing for public comment
  • alignment with the new Code of Practice
  • disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals used, flowback fluid and produced water composition
  • baseline weed assessment and weed management plans in place
  • Northern Territory Sacred Sites Act 1989 authority certificates for protection of sacred sites required before an EMP can be approved
  • baseline groundwater and methane monitoring to be completed before drilling and hydraulic fracturing can commence
  • mandatory assessment of potential cumulative effects.

There are also important changes to laws to increase the transparency around decision making, in addition to EMPs published for public comment, including that public comments will be taken into consideration by the Minister in her decision making.

Public comments, and a statement of reasons will now be published on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website, should an EMP be approved.