In September 2016, the NT Government placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for onshore petroleum exploration and production in the Northern Territory. The Government commissioned an independent “Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory” led by Hon. Justice Rachel Pepper (the Pepper inquiry). Justice Peper presented the final report on 27 March 2018 (the Pepper Report). The Pepper report set out 135 recommendations, which if implemented as a whole would reduce the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing to a level safe enough to enable hydraulic fracturing to be undertaken in the NT. The NT Government accepted all recommendations and have over the last number of years been undertaking the appropriate actions to implement those recommendations which have now been fully implemented.

The impact of onshore petroleum exploration and production with respect to members relates primarily to access to pastoral properties for the purposes undertaking exploration and production activities. The NT Government promote a policy of “shared use” with respect to leases on crown land. In effect the policy is one in which multiple entities can hold lease for different uses over the same parcel of land, eg. A pastoral lease for the purposes of engaging in a pastoral enterprise and a petroleum exploration permit for the purposes of petroleum exploration might be held over the same parcel of land. For this reason, the Petroleum Regulations 2020 have legislated a set of minimum standard protections that petroleum companies must include in any land access agreement that they negotiate with pastoral lease holders. Unfortunately, pastoral lease holders do not have a veto to prevent access to their pastoral leases.


The NTCA can provide members with assistance in negotiating land access agreements and providing information on issues that they may need to be aware of when petroleum companies are requesting access to their pastoral leases. The NTCA have prepared a template land access agreement. Please note that this agreement does not constitute a legal document but rather provides points that you may wish to consider when negotiating a lease. It is recommended that members seek their own legal advice to determine whether a proposed land access agreement is appropriate to their needs.

Further Information

The primary legislation within which the petroleum industry operates are:


Template land access agreement