Australian-owned natural gas company Santos is operator of three exploration permits - EP 161, 162 and 189 - in the Northern Territory’s McArthur Basin and Beetaloo Sub-basin, east and north-east of Daly Waters. Early-stage exploration activity in EP 161 in 2014 and 2016 indicated a vast gas resource with the potential to stimulate the development of new local industry as well as help meet east coast and international demand for clean energy. However, further exploration and appraisal work needs to occur before the commerciality of the resource and a development plan can be determined. Santos’ exploration program for 2019 and 2020 is focused on EP 161, where the company is aiming to undertake drilling, hydraulic fracturing and seismic activities during the respective dry seasons.
Santos has also been undertaking early-stage exploration in the Amadeus Basin, south of Alice Springs, since the early 2010s. Ongoing exploration for potential new conventional gas fields, if successful, could lead to a development project and an associated increased need for local services.