Lifting a ban on fracking in the Northern Territory would be welcomed by consumers as a move to help put a lid on future gas prices, an inquiry has been told.
The Australia Industry Group and the Business Council of Australia have presented a joint submission to the territory government’s inquiry into hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox says lifting the ban and replacing it with a robust, scientifically-based regulatory framework would have immediate and long-term benefits for the NT economy and the broader community.
“That includes not just exports to Eastern Australia and the wider world, and investment in construction of pipelines and other infrastructure, but the potential to grow downstream industries that turn gas into even more valuable products,” Mr Willox said on Monday.
The NT government imposed a moratorium on fracking in September 2016 and in December that year announced an independent scientific inquiry headed up by Justice Rachel Pepper.
It released a draft final report in December last year and will hand its final report to the government in March.
The final round of public hearings will be conducted in February.
The draft report found that while no industry was completely without risk, continuing technological advances in the extraction of onshore shale gas meant those risks were manageable.
Mr Willox said the inquiry had already proposed a range of rules and protections and had found that fracking would only impact on 0.03 per cent of the territory’s total land mass.
“The substantial resources of shale gas in the NT constitute an enormous opportunity for local and national economic development and security,” he said.
“This opportunity can and should be pursued responsibly.”