Onshore exploration at sunset

Onshore exploration

There are currently 47 granted exploration licences for petroleum in the onshore Northern Territory.

Since 2010, around 60 exploration and production wells have been drilled onshore in the Northern Territory (NT), and exploration seismic data has been acquired in the McArthur, Amadeus, Pedirka and Georgina Basins.

Approved Environmental Management Plans for exploration activities in the NT can be accessed from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website.

View onshore exploration and production map in the NT PDF (4.8 MB).

Petroleum exploration in the NT

McArthur Basin

Following a hiatus due to the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the NT from 2016-2018, exploration recommenced in the Beetaloo Sub-basin during 2019.

Exploration in the central part of the Beetaloo Sub-basin is operated by Origin Energy, in joint venture with Falcon Oil and Gas Ltd. Up to two wells are planned in 2019 to evaluate the potential of the liquids-rich gas fairways in both the Kyalla and Velkerri shale plays.

Santos Ltd also have exploration tenure in the Beetaloo Sub-basin in joint venture with Tamboran Resources Ltd, and have proposed two exploration wells in 2019.

Other key players in the Beetaloo Sub-basin are Pangaea Resources Pty Ltd, Sweetpea Petroleum Pty Ltd and Inpex.

Elsewhere in the greater McArthur Basin, Armour Energy, Minerals Australia (a subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting) and Imperial Oil and Gas have large tenement holdings with a number of stacked conventional and unconventional petroleum plays.

Armour Energy and Minerals Australia also have tenure in the frontier South Nicholson Basin and Lawn Hill Platform.

Amadeus Basin

Santos Ltd has a farm-in agreement with Central Petroleum Ltd for a large area in the Amadeus Basin, where Santos are targeting sub-salt and intra-salt plays of the Neoproterozoic lower Gillen-Heavitree Quartzite System in the southeastern part of the basin. Following seismic acquisition in 2016-18, Santos spudded the Dukas-1 wildcat well in April 2019.

During 2018, Central Petroleum Ltd drilled two appraisal wells associated with their producing fields in the Ordivician petroleum system in the north of the basin (West Mereenie 26 and Palm Valley 13).

Mosman Oil and Gas Ltd is also exploring in the Amadeus Basin.

Other Basins

Activity in most other basins has been subdued since 2015. Other explorers with granted tenure include Tri-star Petroleum Pty Ltd in the Pedirka Basin, Global Vanadium in the southern Georgina Basin, Vintage Energy Ltd in the onshore Bonaparte Basin and Blue Energy Ltd (in joint venture with Wiso Oil Pty Ltd) in the Wiso and Birrindudu basins.