Hundreds of millions of dollars of investment along the supply chain have already poured into regional NT communities during the exploration phase.
Now the safe development of the region’s onshore gas reserves will help usher in a new wave of prosperity for the region as the NT Government collects royalties to help fund public services and infrastructure.
And it will be achieved in collaboration with landholders, Traditional Owners and other important community groups, while operating within a strict environmental regulatory framework.
“The NT has backed the Beetaloo and it’s great news for the businesses and people of Darwin, as well as the many regional communities, such as Katherine and Tennant Creek, which will benefit from new investment and jobs,” says David Slama, Director Northern Territory, Australian Energy Producers, formerly Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association.
As the NT Government pushes towards a $40 billion economy by 2030, the critical role of the gas industry in meeting the ambition is becoming increasingly recognised.
Mr Slama says: “The wide-ranging benefits the gas industry delivers to all Australians is often taken for granted.
“Gas is already so crucial to the NT economy – employing 11,000 workers along the supply chain, enabling about $19 billion of economic activity annually and driving future economic growth.
“It also keeps the lights on by generating 86 percent of Territorians’ electricity supply while the industry is leading decarbonisation efforts.”
He says gas is critical for achieving net zero.
“The outlook is positive because the Territory Government has recognised the importance of gas to the Northern Territory and Australia’s energy transformation and our path to net zero by 2050,” Mr Slama says.
“It is focused on practical solutions and approaches to get to net zero while ensuring energy security, and it is why the Territory is entering a new wave of prosperity with exciting projects such as the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct, the Beetaloo Basin and new industries such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).
“As the list of projects continues to grow, they will positively shape the region’s future, delivering more benefits to Territorians.”
Mr Slama says Middle Arm will play an integral role in the Territory’s clean energy transformation and deliver vital economic opportunities, while the Beetaloo Basin is one of the most exciting new energy supply opportunities in Australia.
“The Beetaloo will support new jobs and deliver millions of dollars of investment in regional communities, but perhaps most importantly, it is emerging right at a time when new gas supply should be at the top of the agendas of policymakers around Australia,” he says.
And while projects such as Middle Arm and the Beetaloo are critical pieces of the puzzle, Mr Slama says CCS is a new net zero industry that is now core business for the region’s gas industry, led by INPEX’s Bonaparte CCS and Santos’ Bayu-Undan CCS projects.
“CCS supports a least-cost path to net zero and is emerging as a significant economic and emissions reduction opportunity for regional communities, businesses and manufacturing in the Northern Territory,” he says.
“It is a proven, safe and well-understood technology – a process where CO2 emissions are captured, compressed and then safely and permanently injected and stored deep underground, often in reservoirs that previously held natural gas.
“We can expect more investment in CCS projects and technologies, because as the International Energy Agency says, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is virtually impossible without large-scale deployment of CCS globally.”
Mr Slama says the industry’s role and focus have expanded beyond traditional oil and gas exploration and development to include low-carbon fuels and technologies, including CCS.
This evolution of the industry is reflected in the new name, Australian Energy Producers, which was unveiled on 13 September.
The organisation is also continuing a national awareness campaign, Natural Gas: Keeping the Country Running, across mainstream and social media and at futureofgas.com.au.
Mr Slama says the campaign highlights the many ways gas continues to be critical to the region’s future.
“Gas is at the heart of the NT economy, doing the heavy lifting in NT power generation and supporting renewable uptake, powering manufacturing to make products like bricks and bottles, and unlocking net zero technologies such as CCS and low-carbon hydrogen,” he says.