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Santos receives approval for shale gas drilling

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LNG Industry,

Santos has announced that it has received approval for the first environmental management plan (EMP) to be awarded for onshore shale gas exploration in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia, since the moratorium was lifted early last year.

According to the statement, NT Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler approved the company’s drilling EMP for the Tanumbirini 2H and Inacumba 1/1H wells in Exploration Permit 161 in the McArthur Basin, east of Daly Waters.

Santos is the operator of, and holds a 75% interest in, the permit. The company claims that this latest approval to resume drilling activities in the basin follows the approval last month of the EMP for civil works at and around the well locations, as well as the acquisition of 2D seismic data.

Kevin Gallagher, Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated that the approval of the drilling EMP is a key milestone that clears the path to restart onshore shale gas exploration in the resource-rich McArthur Basin.

Gallagher said: “We drilled Tanumbirini 1 in 2014 and liked what we saw, so we are delighted to be in a position to resume exploration drilling.

“Local communities desperately need the jobs, small business opportunities and investment the onshore natural gas industry will bring, and with the new regulatory regime in place to ensure that the environment and water resources are protected, we’ll be moving as quickly as possible and doing our best to beat the approaching wet season.”

In the statement, Santos claims that it is currently finalising drilling operations at the Dukas 1 well in the Amadeus Basin, and the next drilling location for the Ensign 965 rig will depend on the rig release date from Dukas 1.

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