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Onshore petroleum basins in the Northern Territory

Large areas of the onshore Northern Territory comprises oil and gas bearing sedimentary basins.

This includes the currently producing Amadeus Basin, the very large undeveloped shale gas resources of the Beetaloo Sub-basin, and a diverse range of frontier basins with ages that range from late Palaeoproterozoic to Mesozoic.

The onshore basins of the Northern Territory (NT) have varying levels of petroleum potential for either conventional, unconventional or both. The understanding of potential is generally reflective of the degree to which they have been explored and investigated. The level of development of onshore basins with hydrocarbon potential can be classified as:

  • Producing - currently producing gas and/or oil
  • Advanced exploration - contains discovery wells and fields with Contingent Resources, or
  • Frontier - have some exploration activity such as seismic acquisition or wells but no reported discoveries.

A complete guide to the petroleum geology and potential of the onshore NT can be found in NTGS Report 22.

Palaeo to Mesoproterozoic basins

The Beetaloo Sub-basin, in the McArthur Basin, is the NT’s premier shale gas play, where substantial shale gas resources are hosted within shales of the Mesoproterozoic Roper Group.

Elsewhere in the McArthur Basin, shales of the 1640 million year old Barney Creek Formation of the McArthur Group are a source rock for conventional gas discovered in the basin, and have substantial shale gas potential. Large parts of the greater McArthur Basin including the Birrindudu Basin remain untested for oil and gas.

The Palaeo-Mesoproterozoic South Nicholson Basin and Lawn Hill Platform contain correlatives of the Beetaloo Sub-basin and McArthur Group. Seismic data indicates that these basins occur extensively undercover within the NT and they remain largely untested for gas and oil.

Neoproterozoic to Phanerozoic basins

The Amadeus Basin in the southern part of the NT contains numerous petroleum systems, and has been continuously producing oil and gas for nearly forty years

The southern Georgina Basin contains correlatives of the Amadeus Basin, including a middle Cambrian succession that contains productive marine source rocks. Numerous conventional stratigraphic and structural traps are present within the basin, which also has considerable shale gas and oil potential. The Wiso Basin is virtually unexplored for petroleum and the most prospective area, the Lander Trough, has not been drill tested.

The onshore Bonaparte Basin is the extension of a producing offshore basin, and has potential for both conventional and unconventional gas and oil.

The Warburton, Pedirka and Eromanga basins have an abundance of organically rich source rocks, porous and permeable reservoirs with effective vertical seals, and closed anticlinal structures. The Pedirka Basin, includes direct correlatives of the Cooper Basin in South Australia and Queensland.