Santos cleared for shale gas drilling in Australia’s Northern Territory

Australian LNG player Santos has received approval for an environmental management plan (EMP) for the Tanumbirini 2H and Inacumba 1/1H wells in Exploration Permit 161 in the McArthur Basin.

Santos said on Wednesday that this EMP was the first one awarded for onshore shale gas exploration in the Northern Territory since the moratorium was lifted in early 2018.

Exploration Permit 161 lies in the McArthur Basin, east of Daly Waters, where Santos is the operator with a 75 percent interest.

The green light for the resumption of drilling activities in the basin follows last month’s approval of the EMP for civil works at and around the well locations, as well as the acquisition of 2D seismic data.

Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said that the approval of the drilling EMP was an important milestone as it clears the way to restart onshore shale gas exploration in the resource-rich McArthur Basin.

We drilled Tanumbirini 1 in 2014 and liked what we saw, so we are delighted to be in a position to resume exploration drilling,” Gallagher added.

Santos is currently completing the drilling of the Dukas 1 well in the Amadeus Basin, and the next drilling location for the Ensign 965 rig will depend on the rig release date from Dukas 1.

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