The largest private investment since Inpex’s Ichthys gas project has been approved in the NT, with Santos signing off on a $4.7 billion final investment decision for its offshore gas Barossa Project, north of Darwin.
The project also represents the biggest investment in Australia’s oil and gas sector since 2012.
It will supply replacement gas for the Darwin LNG project that is capable of producing 3.7 million tonnes-a-year.
The investment decision will kickstart the $800 million invetsments decision to extend the life of the Darwin LNG plant by about 20 years, with tie-in pipelines to connect the gas field, which lies about 300 kilometres off the coast.
Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt was in Darwin for the announcement and said the final investment decision is “a tremendous show of confidence in the long-term future of Australia’s resource sector”.
“It is also a great sign that oil and gas market conditions have improved,” Mr Pitt said.
Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher said the project is in line with their strategy to target “disciplined” growth using existing infrastructure around core oil and gas assets.
“As we enter this next growth phase, we will remain disciplined in managing our major project costs, consistent with our low-cost operating model,” Mr Gallagher said.
“The Barossa and Darwin life extension projects are good for the economy and good for local jobs and business opportunities in the Northern Territory.”
He added that the project would create 350 permanent jobs in the NT over the next two decades, which he said would be filled by people who live here.
Northern Territory Senator Sam McMahon said the project will be a major economic boost to the region.
“The announcement of the development of this field, with gas and particularly condensates so close to Darwin, will provide opportunities for us to capitalise on value adding with new industries,” Ms McMahon said.
“The NT is uniquely placed to develop a thriving petrochemical industry, amongst others, on the back of this announcement. It comes at a time when the NT couldn’t need it more, our economy was in tatters before COVID and we desperately need business and industry to get us back on track.”
NT Mining and Industry Minister Nicole Manison said the project will provide much-needed jobs to the NT.
“We remain focused on creating jobs and making the Territory the very best place to do business,” she said in a statement.
“Private investment is so important for our comeback from the coronavirus crisis, and we will continue to support this sector, which creates opportunities and jobs for Territorians.”