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Origin Energy continues to build a clearer picture of the resource potential that lies within the Beetaloo sub-basin with the success of its 2021 work program.

Since starting work in 2014, Origin has drilled seven wells in a nine-well exploration program, with two more planned in 2022.

 “It’s been busy year that has seen us further our understanding of the basin from activity at three well sites,” says Origin’s General Manager for Beetaloo and Growth Assets, Chris White.

Origin’s Amungee well, drilled before the moratorium in 2016, was put back on flow testing.

“We wanted to test the hypothesis that it had greater production potential,” Chris says.

“What we found was the one terajoule a day dry gas rates we were measuring were only coming from a short section of the well – suggesting much stronger gas flows of five terajoule a day when this was normalised over 1000 metres.

“In a development scenario, we would be looking at 2000-3000 metre-long well laterals so this result now gives us line of site to wells capable of producing over 10 terajoules a day.

“While this is super exciting, we have to demonstrate we can achieve this rate over longer lateral lengths and repeat it over multiple wells.”

Origin also returned to the Kyalla well, drilled last year.

After a pause, the well flowed unassisted for five days. But despite positive indications a longer period of testing was not able to be sustained. The well was viewed as a technical success, meeting its primary objective of flowing liquids-rich gas to surface.

“For the first horizontal well drilled into this part of the basin, we very much see this as a positive outcome,” Chris says. “The Kyalla shales remain a viable target warranting further analysis now and potential future appraisal.”

In the back half of the year, the Velkerri well was successfully drilled. Like the Kyalla well it was targeting liquids-rich gas in a different underground shale formation.

While it’s not being flow tested, core samples and logging data results show the best shale properties anyone has seen in the basin.


A fundamental part of Origin’s plans is providing opportunities for businesses and communities around where they work and in Darwin.

“We know successful long-term projects are built on increasing local opportunity and capability, Chris says. “And I’m pleased to say this continues to grow.”

To date, Origin has directly contracted over 10 NT businesses and two NT Indigenous-owned businesses to support its exploration activity.  And more than 10 additional NT businesses have been indirectly contracted or subcontracted.

During this year’s campaign, Alice Springs-based Silver City Drilling came on board and drilled the Velkerri well.

Tennant Creek-based Phillips Earthmoving also joined, preparing access roads and related civil maintenance work.

Origin’s spending with NT business is now more than $25 million – and Chris says all things going to plan, that number will only get bigger.

“We are committed to help growing capability as we go through exploration and appraisal so that should a development go ahead, we provide as much local supply opportunity as possible. It just makes sense.

“We continue to be very optimistic about the potential of the Beetaloo.

“We’re moving to put in place the other building blocks to getting a sustainable and commercial development of material scale off the ground.”

These include long-lead environmental approvals; discussions with infrastructure partners and working groups on carbon capture and storage (Origin is also working separately with CSIRO about its own carbon capture and storage possibilities within the basin); and commencing ILLUA negotiations for a development scenario.

Origin aims to be net zero for scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050 and any new gas development, including in the Beetaloo, will need to be consistent with the company’s carbon commitments. 

“We are looking at our field and facilities designs for a development that minimises emissions from the word go, and the potential to be genuine net zero through blue ammonia and carbon capture and storage technology,” Chris says.

“We’re also planning to offset our emissions for this year’s operations with Australian carbon credit units purchased from a local Aboriginal carbon farming project.”

All this continues to step the company towards a success case in a couple of years.

“We’re a purpose-driven organisation focussed on getting energy right for our customers, community and planet,” Chris says.

“We see the Beetaloo as a viable, responsible opportunity to provide the energy the world needs, in a way that realises ongoing opportunities for communities and the Northern Territory and doing so in a way that meets our emissions commitments in a lower carbon future.”