Millions locked in to tap Territory shale fields
The Morrison government has moved to open Northern Territory shale fields for exploration and development as part of a $75 million package to support ¬reliable energy infrastructure.
The commitment will be delivered over seven years from 2018-19 and support investment in reliable power generation, network infrastructure and more ¬reliable energy supplies.
It comes on top of a series of substantive yet already announced commitments, including $1.38 billion for the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project, $56m for a second interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, and $284m in one-off payments to help pensioners meet their power bills. The new element buried in the government’s energy package is an $8.4m pledge to support feasibility studies to accelerate gas supplies from the Northern Territory to the east coast market.
It represents a first step to creating a new gas province to help service the domestic market, with Resources Minister Matt Canavan saying in February that the Beetaloo sub-basin was the “best immediate prospect” for a new oil and gas hub.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor yesterday said: “Putting downward pressure on domestic gas ¬prices while ensuring the security of supply remains a priority. The government will back jurisdictions that support gas exploration by investing $8.4m to accelerate the ¬development of the Beetaloo sub-basin.”
The commitment for the Beetaloo basin includes $1.5m to identify gas projects that could be fast-tracked, $5m for hydrological and geological assessments and $2m to support a strategy ensuring that indigenous landholders benefit from development.
The major component of the $75m package is the $50.4m commitment to support the development of microgrids in regional and remote communities. A further $10m has also been dedicated to the development of a business case for reliable and affordable energy supplies in north Queensland, including a feasibility study for a proposed clean coal plant in Collinsville.
The feasibility study has helped smooth a rift over energy policy with key Nationals MPs who have been agitating for a new coal plant.