Tenth Hydraulic Fracturing Implementation Progress Update

Issued 14 Jul 2022

Hydraulic Fracturing Implementation Progress Update November 2021 to April 2022

This progress update provides detail on the status of implementation from 1 November 2021 to 30 April 2022. The Inquiry made 135 recommendations, three of which were separated to assist implementation planning, resulting in 138 recommendations to be reported on.

As at 30 April 2022, 66 of the 138 total recommendations were fully completed. Read updates to the implementation status of individual recommendations.

Highlights from the progress achieved in the six month reporting period and next steps align to the following four key areas of implementation and reform:

  • The Strategic Regional Environmental Baseline Assessment (SREBA) for the Beetaloo Sub-Basin
  • Regulation and Assessment
  • Completing implementation of the Inquiry recommendations
  • Information management and community engagement.
  • The SREBA is a set of six studies to address knowledge gaps and establish appropriate baselines against which the potential impacts of proposed onshore gas activities may be assessed.

    Study updates:

    1. Water: completed water quality and quantity studies to further develop the modelling and detailed gap analysis of water-related information for the Beetaloo Sub-Basin. New water monitoring bores were established during 2021 and drilling for bores to fill information gaps in other parts of the basin is underway and will continue throughout 2022. An extensive array of existing bores were tested for water quality during 2021, with testing continuing in 2022.
    2. Terrestrial ecosystems: completed mapping of regional ecosystems and targeted surveys for some threatened species undertaken in cooperation with the Commonwealth Government's Geological and Bioregional Assessment (GBA) program, which has funded additional ecological studies. Field work is nearing completion, with data collation and analysis to be completed by October 2022. The data will be used to define areas of high conservation value in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin.
    3. Aquatic ecosystems: field work is nearing completion including mapping and classifying aquatic ecosystems, with analysis to be completed by October 2022. Stygofauna were sampled from 26 bores and two springs in the region during 2019. During 2021-2022, 87 sites were sampled to ensure a more comprehensive geographic and sampling depth coverage across the study region.
    4. Environmental Health: desktop studies analysing existing data on population health, air quality, water quality and soils are underway, with analysis to be completed by October 2022, with preliminary results of air quality sampling available in November 2022.
    5. Greenhouse gas: field work underway, with CSIRO undertaking on-ground sampling through 2021 to July 2022, and analysis to be completed by October 2022.
    6. Social Cultural and Economic: Scope of Works (SoW) for the Study, developed by University of Queensland (UQ), involved around 40 key stakeholder groups, and approved by UQs accredited Human Research Ethics Committee to ensure independence. The Minister for Environment approved the SoW in January 2022 with workshops held in March 2022 to establish baseline indicators and ongoing monitoring and reporting.

    Beetaloo Regional Reference Group

    The Beetaloo Regional Reference Group (the Reference Group) is a community consultative forum for the SREBA studies within the Beetaloo Region, meeting regularly and participating in the social, cultural and economic study. The Reference Group is scheduled to meet again in August and November 2022 to discuss preliminary findings with the SREBA study teams, communication approaches and appropriate dissemination methods.

  • Agencies continue to regulate the onshore petroleum activities while progressing recommendations. A total of 28 Environment Management Plans have been approved under the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 since the responsibility for environmental regulation was transferred to the Minister for Environment.

    A number of amendments are underway to the Petroleum Act 1984 to address 13 recommendations.

  • A number of other implementation priorities were the focus for this reporting period.

    Cost Recovery

    In November 2021, the current interim regulatory cost recovery framework was extended to allow for consultation and implementation of the final regulatory cost recovery framework. Consultation with industry and key stakeholders on the proposed cost recovery system concluded in February 2022. Government is currently considering the outcomes of consultation and progressing the high-level design of the cost recovery system.

    Infrastructure and Planning

    A series of studies were completed on infrastructure and logistical requirements for the exploration and development stages in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin under a range of supply and demand development scenarios. The studies engaged extensively with key stakeholders to test assessments and analysis, and provide critical feedback.

  • Community Engagement

    The NT Government, entered into a five-year agreement with CSIRO from December 2021, to deliver a dedicated face-to-face Community Engagement and Information Program with the appointment of the Program Lead in April 2022.

    Principles of Engagement when using Aboriginal Interpreters guidelines

    Principles of Engagement when using Aboriginal Interpreters have been drafted to provide a consistent set of guidance for those consulting with Aboriginal people, promoting consistent, effective and accountable engagement and emphasising the importance of using interpreters when explaining complex scientific matters. The Principles recognise the significance of respecting community and culture when consulting with Aboriginal people.

    The Principles, once finalised, will be published on the Hydraulic Fracturing Implementation website and linked to key resource sites to ensure accessibility to all stakeholders engaging with Aboriginal community members.

Independent Oversight of the Tenth Hydraulic Fracturing Implementation Progress Update

The role of the Independent Overseer is to provide the Chief Minister and NT Government with independent advice on how the implementation of the recommendations from the Inquiry is progressing and being managed. The nature of this role requires the Independent Overseer to remain at arms-length from day-to-day decisions and processes relating to implementation.

Dr David Ritchie, has provided comment on the progress of implementation outlined in the latest six-monthly update.

Overall, Dr Ritchie found that implementation continues satisfactorily in accordance with the findings of the Inquiry.

Read Dr Ritchie’s full advice PDF (462.8 KB)

To contact the Independent Overseer, email Dr David Ritchie at independent.oversight@nt.gov.au

What’s next

Implementation of the remaining recommendations is in progress and the NT Government continues to work on satisfactorily completing recommendations by the end of 2022.

Want to find out more

To find out about opportunities to engage in consultation or to keep up to date with the status of implementation of each recommendation, sign up for regular updates on the website or by email: hydraulic.fracturing@nt.gov.au