Building a productive onshore gas industry that protects our unique environment and delivers local jobs

Issued 25 Jul 2019

Implementation of pre-exploration recommendations completed

The Northern Territory Government has completed all recommendations summarised in Table 16.1 of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory Final Report.

This means the Northern Territory Government can assess applications for drilling of petroleum wells and hydraulic fracturing.

The Government has also finalised its Petroleum Reserved Block Policy, following consultation in May/June 2019.

This policy completes the Final Report’s recommendation on reserved blocks, which stated there should be areas that are off limits to any petroleum activities due to unique values of these areas, or their important role in providing environmental, social, health and cultural benefits to surrounding communities.

The areas to be declared reserved blocks are:

  • areas of high tourism value,
  • towns and residential areas (including areas that have assets of strategic importance to nearby residential areas),
  • national parks, conservation reserves,
  • areas of high ecological value,
  • areas of cultural significance and
  • Indigenous Protected Areas.

The formal establishment of the no-go zones under the Petroleum Act will occur in a staged process, with up to 49% of the Territory identified to be protected from petroleum activity.

Action will be taken immediately to declare no-go zones. Further consultations and negotiations will be undertaken with stakeholders, including Land Councils, to determine whether they want to declare areas within ALRA as no-go zones.

Eighty-seven areas will be declared Reserved Blocks as a priority as part of Tranche 1 of declaring no go zones. This is about 11% of the NT.

The remaining areas for declaration requires notifications to park or reserve’s Board of Management (Tranche 2), negotiation with a petroleum company if the area interacts with a granted exploration permit (Tranche 3) and consultation with Land Councils (Tranche 4).

Government is also including the municipalities of Katherine and Alice Springs as a reserved block as well as the Alice Springs airport and the two bore fields that are the current and future town water supply for Alice Springs’, being the Roe Creek and Rocky Hill bore fields.

The Monitoring and Compliance Strategy has also been released which outlines how key Government agencies will undertake active compliance, monitoring and surveillance to detect any non-compliances in the gas industry. Visit the NTG Newsroom to read more.

For information on progress towards the implementation of each of the 135 recommendations from the Inquiry – including the completion of the 31 recommendations required for exploration – go to:

Information outlining no-go zone areas, the no-go zone policy and associated maps are available to view here:

Submissions received during no go zone public consultation period are available to view here:

First Onshore Shale Gas Exploration Drilling Environment Management Plan Approved

The first Environment Management Plan (EMP) for Onshore Shale Gas Exploration Drilling has been approved in the McArthur Basin, following the completion of the 31 recommendations required to be completed prior to exploration and drilling recommencing. Visit the NTG Newsroom to read more.

Independent Oversight

Implementation of the recommendations has required careful management and coordination. The appointment of the Independent Officer to oversee the implementation of the recommendations ensures increased transparency and accountability of the implementation process, outside normal government reporting systems. Recognising the importance of this role, the Chief Minister has extended the Independent Officer’s appointment beyond the end of 2019, to ensure this independent oversight continues. In his role as Independent Officer overseeing implementation of the recommendations,

Dr David Ritchie is now set to stay in this role for a further six months. To contact the Independent Officer, email Dr David Ritchie at

Onshore Shale Gas Community and Business Reference Group

The Onshore Shale Gas Community and Business Reference Group (Reference Group) are instrumental in providing feedback to government on the development of the implementation framework and its subsequent execution, in accordance with recommendation 16.4. The Reference Group has proven to be a valuable medium for stakeholders in the wider community to communicate their views. It has been an essential forum for sharing information and providing opportunities for collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders from across the community, environmental groups, local business, land councils, gas industry and local government.

The Chief Minister has invited the Reference Group to extend their tenure beyond the initial 12 month period.

The fifth Onshore Shale Gas Community and Business Reference Group meeting is scheduled for 28 August, 2019. To contact the Reference Group, email

If you have any further questions, you can contact the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry Implementation Taskforce at

To contact the Independent Officer, email Dr David Ritchie at