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Northern Territory makes the right call on onshore gas fracking

The Australian Industry Group welcomes today’s decision by the Northern Territory Government to lift its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for onshore gas. This is a balanced decision on an issue where feelings run high.

An independent scientific inquiry report released in March found the risks associated with hydraulic fracking of gas deposits could be managed and regulated. The report indicates that an effective regulatory regime for mineral exploration and appraisal in the Northern Territory will be able to protect the cultural heritage of NT communities, water resources and the environment, while enabling further investment in this sector and in vital infrastructure like gas pipelines, which will connect gas fields in the Northern Territory to Eastern Australian markets. The NT Government has adopted these strong protections, and their effective and efficient implementation should give the community comfort.

Natural gas is a critical resource for the Northern Territory and the national economy. It is the third major fuel source for the Australian economy, after oil and coal. It is used widely across the national economy, for electricity generation, as manufacturing feedstock and for domestic use. In electricity generation, gas is playing a more crucial role as old coal retires and variable renewable energy grows.

Beyond the direct benefits to the Territory, Eastern Australia faces increasing challenges to meet its gas needs in coming years. While the Commonwealth’s deal with the gas exporters provides greater confidence in supply over the next two years, old conventional resources continue to deplete and new unconventional resources face moratoria in several jurisdictions. One way of alleviating the risk of gas shortfalls in coming years is by reforming state and territory government policies and allowing further gas exploration. The NT government has set an example for other states to follow in lifting its moratorium on fracking and providing additional supplies of natural gas for local and national economic development and security.

Media enquiries: Tennant Reed – 0418 337 930