Santos has made its final submission to the Northern Territory’s scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing outlining that it could create more than 2,300 jobs if it is allowed to develop its onshore gas tenements in the Northern Territory.
Santos says it will create 255 jobs in the exploration phase, 305 during the appraisal phase and 1,780 when it reaches the development and production phases.
If you ask us, that sounds like a positive outcome for skilled Territorians who are eager for new avenues of employment.
What’s more, Santos’ numbers are that of one operator, other operators and complimentary businesses will add to the figures. Pangaea NT, which also has exploration permits in the Beetaloo Basin south of Katherine, has indicated it is likely to create 1,500 jobs.
In fact, as we have detailed previously, another independent economic analysis confirmed the strong contribution onshore shale gas development could contribute to the Northern Territory. The report, by economics consultant ACIL Allen, was commissioned by the NT Scientific Inquiry.
Shale gas development could create more than 500 new jobs sustained over 25 years, boost the NT economy by $5.8 billion and generate up to $3.7 billion in taxes and royalties for the Territory over the same period.
NT industry representative Matt Doman countered, saying the ACIL Allen report reinforced that there were substantial benefits available for the Territory through responsible, regulated development of shale gas resources.
“The ACIL Allen analysis is a very conservative model which is at odds with the demonstrated experience of the gas industry in other states and uses smaller development scenarios than the industry believes are likely,” said Mr Doman, the NT Director for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
These more recent figures released by Santos provide an even more attractive and tangible economic benefit for the community of the willing in the Territory.
In its submission, Santos has also outlined that it will provide the data for a strategic regional environmental baseline assessment – highlighting the company’s commitment to a transparent and accountable way forward for its operations in the Territory.
“Exploration and appraisal activities are already well regulated under the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations that require the identification of all potential environmental impacts and risks and that they are managed to as a low as reasonably practicable and acceptable levels.”
“Collection and analysis of baseline environmental data is therefore a fundamental part of the exploration and appraisal phase of any project.
While the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory hasn’t had its final say yet, the draft report is certainly a welcome indication of the results to come – that the risks associated with onshore natural gas development and fracking can be managed with effective regulation in place.
Released late last year, the Inquiry’s draft report outlines 120 recommendations which will eventually be presented to the Government for it to use in its assessment and decision about whether the Northern Territory will lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing allowing for the recommencement of operations within its borders.
As we have outlined before, the NT inquiry is the 14th to be held in Australia (the second in the NT), but it is no less important than the first.
On current technology, natural gas is the best route to returning Australia to its previous position as a leader in affordable, reliable energy for consumers, small business and large enterprise.
NT is key because test drilling has shown very positive results for large quantities of good quality natural gas buried in shale formations two and three kilometres underground.
We can’t help but hope that the NT Government will take on board the mounting case in favour of the safe development of onshore gas in the Territory and be comfortable to lift the current moratorium and let industry get on with the job.