For the first time the Northern Territory Government has approved two petroleum exploration permits on Aboriginal land managed by the Northern Land Council (NLC).
With the approval of the NLC, the permits have been granted to Imperial Oil and Gas and Exploration, Minerals Australia and Jacaranda Minerals for leases in the McArthur Basin.
Northern Territory Director of the APPEA, Steven Gerhardy, welcomed the historic agreement saying it could lead to significant benefits for local communities.
“This is a very positive development for an industry that has the potential to deliver much-needed jobs, investment and infrastructure in remote and regional communities throughout the Northern Territory,” Mr Gerhardy said.
“Imperial Oil and Gas, for example, has already been working with government agencies and a Darwin-based Indigenous training organisation to provide accredited on-site training programs for people living in remote Indigenous communities.
“Benefits like these will only be realised if companies have access to land to carry out the exploration needed to develop new projects.”
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said he hoped granting the permits would one day result in increased job opportunities in the region.
“The resources industry is one key to that process and the granting of these permits is an important step in creating private sector employment opportunities,” Mr Giles said.
According to the NT government, the three exploration companies plan to invest $28m in geophysical studies and test drilling to assess the viability of commercial oil and gas extraction.