New Petroleum Regulations commence in Northern Territory

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New petroleum regulations commenced on 1 January 2021 in the Northern Territory – the Petroleum Regulations 2020 (repealing the Petroleum Regulations 1994). These aim to strengthen regulation of onshore petroleum activities in the NT and provide minimum protections to land owners (including pastoralists) in negotiating land access and compensation arrangements with petroleum companies. The key matters covered in the Regulations include:

  • a requirement for petroleum companies to enter into an approved land access agreement with land owners or occupiers before carrying out any operations for which an exploration permit, retention licence or production licence is required (other than certain preliminary activities);
  • a process for negotiating and entering into land access agreements, including obligations to negotiate in good faith, and an alternative dispute resolution mechanism where agreement cannot be reached;
  • certain minimum protection requirements that are required to be addressed in all land access agreements, including minimum notice periods for commencing operations, and obligations to close gates, minimise disturbance, prevent the spread of weeds and repair damage to fences; and
  • a requirement for compensation to be paid to land owners and occupiers for the drilling of a well, and for any decrease in the market value of the land caused by operations.

The Regulations were developed following recommendations made by the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in 2018, and reflect the importance of co-operation between the petroleum industry and the well-established pastoral sector in the NT.  

Further information on the Regulations, including a copy of them, can be found on the NT government website at:

If you need advice or assistance contact James Bruining or Yvonne Jansen at Grondal Bruining on +61 8 6500 4300. 

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