A report confirming the discovery of liquids rich gas buried deep within the Beetaloo Basin has been submitted to the NT Government, just days after $217 million of federal funds was earmarked to accelerate plans to develop the major gas reservoir.
The report, from Origin, is merely a formality in line with the NT's regulatory guidelines for reporting a discovery, Origin senior external affairs manager Chris Zipf says.
In a statement released yesterday by the energy company, "the notification of discovery is supported by preliminary production test data and petrophysical data."
"We are encouraged by the early results from the well, which has met our primary objective to flow liquids rich gas from the Kyalla formation," Origin executive general manager of integrated gas Mark Schubert said.
"To support the well to flow continually without assistance we will now put in place longer term measures to flow back sufficient hydraulic fracture stimulation water, enabling production testing to commence in the coming months during the dry season.
"This is the first well to be successfully drilled into the Kyalla formation and we continue to gather important knowledge and data that will inform and refine our ongoing exploration activity in the Beetaloo."
Tests had previously indicated the presence of liquids-rich gas at the site, also known as hydrocarbons, and has been a cause for concerns among residents in opposition to unconventional gas production.
When the NT Government announced a moratorium on fracking in 2016, the move was praised by residents and lobbyists fighting the development of a gas industry.
The oil and gas industry has withstood resistance ever since the moratorium was controversially lifted, because of fears about the impact of fracking on scarce water resources, carbon emissions and air pollution once production reaches its end point.
The proposed Beetaloo development provides a gaping greenhouse gas hole in the Northern Territory's climate change plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Experts have already suggested the shale gas industry could lift Australia's greenhouse gases as much as three per cent.
"The NT Government has given fracking companies free rein to pollute and destroy land and water across the Territory under the false premise that Justice Pepper gave the green light to the industry," Protect Country Alliance spokesman Graeme Sawyer said.
"The Pepper Inquiry's recommendations have not been fully implemented - rather, many have been ignored or watered down at the behest of fracking companies.
"The Gunner Government promised before the most recent election that it would stand up to the fracking companies and implement the full suite of Justice Pepper's recommendations. Five months down the track, it seems as though fracking companies are getting away with more than they did before the election.
"Origin Energy, meanwhile, claims in its advertisements that it is creating 'good energy' - clearly, with its fracking tenements now stretching across the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia, nothing could be further from the truth."
Mining companies have previously dismissed claims the search for onshore gas in the Northern Territory is a covert attempt to drill for oil.
'Hydrocarbons' a chemical compound composed of hydrogen and carbon can form the basis of crude oil, natural gas, coal, and many other energy sources.
But Mr Zipf reasserted the sole purpose of the well is to "evaluate the potential of what's referred to as liquids rich gas".
"Liquids rich gas is gas in formation that presents as a liquid as it comes to surface, and is the next step up in the molecule chain," he said.
"As this gas comes towards the surface the pressure and temperature changes and the heavier gas molecules begin to form a liquid.
"A simple analogy would be a hot shower, the steam (the gas) condenses to water (the liquids) as it cools.
"Another example of this is gas being produced in off-shore fields and processed in the NT which is also liquids rich."
According to Origin's statement, the report handed to government today highlights three details, including:
- Unassisted gas flow rates ranging between 0.4 and 0.6 million standard cubic feet per day over a seventeen-hour period.
- Flow back of hydraulic fracture stimulation water to surface with an average rate of between 400 - 600 barrels per day over the same period.
- Initial observations indicate a liquid-rich gas composition with CO2 estimated at less than 1 per cent. Condensate shows were also present.
The energy company has flagged a further update will likely be provided in the second half of 2021, when production testing has concluded, and a detailed evaluation has been undertaken.