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NT has gas for hundreds of years: Canavan

The Northern Territory holds enough natural gas to supply Australia for 200 years-plus and is comparable to the shale resources that have revolutionised the US energy sector, Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan says.

Such abundant gas should enable Australia to reduce its current high energy prices, which were the fault of southern states preventing development, Senator Canavan told an NT Resources Week conference in Darwin.

The NT government lifted a ban on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to access onshore gas this year, which is banned in Victoria and much of NSW.

Geoscience Australia estimates the NT has about 257,000 petajoules of shale gas to meet Australia's demands for 200 years, Senator Canavan said.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he had been told by energy companies that figure could be double with the Beetaloo Sub-basin.

"There is more than enough gas in the Beetaloo to both export to demand overseas, to help out our fellow Australians and to support a gas manufacturing, value-adding industry here in Darwin," he told reporters.

Senator Canavan described Beetaloo, located southeast of Katherine, as "a world class shale resource rich in liquids that is comparable to US shale resources which have been so critical in turning around the US energy market and manufacturing sector".

"The refinement of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has turned the US from the world's largest net energy importer just over a decade ago to becoming a net energy exporter in recent years," he said.

"This has enormous implications for global trade and politics."

Darwin wants to establish itself as a hub for gas exports, related services and "value-adding" manufacturing - possibly with investment from China - by offering cheap energy that would create jobs.

It would also send gas to Australia's east coast from current Darwin offshore gas projects through Jemena's planned 600km-plus pipeline.

Senator Canavan also criticised the NT government's plan to introduce a new "hybrid" royalty scheme that the industry says will increase what they pay and discourage investment.

Mining investment rose 5.1 per cent in Australia's latest quarterly figures with production at record levels in the NT, so now was not the time to hike taxes, he said.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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