Community Update #10 - 5 May 2017

The independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Unconventional Reservoirs in the Northern Territory has released a public tender to assist the Inquiry panel in understanding the social impacts of potential onshore unconventional gas development in the Northern Territory.

The Inquiry Chair, Justice Rachel Pepper said that under the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, it must determine the nature and extent of the risks of hydraulic fracturing on the natural environment as well as the risks and benefits of the unconventional shale gas industry on social and cultural conditions.

“In order for the Inquiry Panel to make an appropriate assessment of the social and cultural impacts of the industry, it is necessary to undertake social impact research and analysis in the Northern Territory context,” Justice Pepper said.

“The successful tenderer must develop a leading practice framework for the identification, assessment and management of social impacts associated with the development of onshore unconventional gas in the Northern Territory, if such an industry was to proceed.”

Justice Pepper said the tender also requires a focus on the social impacts of developing unconventional gas reservoirs in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Sub-basin, which the Inquiry understands to be the most prospective area for unconventional gas development in the Northern Territory.

“The successful tenderer must identify the people or groups of people that are most likely to be impacted by the development of unconventional gas resources in and around the Beetaloo Sub-basin, and make an assessment of the potential impacts and recommend strategies that could be applied to either mitigate negative social impacts or maximise social benefit,” Justice Pepper said.

The social impact assessment will also be required to advise the Inquiry panel on how the oil and gas industry can earn and maintain a “social licence to operate” in the Northern Territory and how a social licence can be measured.

The tender closes on 17 May 2017 and is accessible here.

Justice Pepper also said submissions on the Inquiry’s Background and Issues Paper closed last weekend, on 30 April 2017.

“The Inquiry received over 200 submissions by email and post, as well as 109 feedback forms from the consultation sessions throughout March and 72 through the Inquiry’s online ‘Have Your Say’ page,” Justice Pepper said.

“We are currently processing all of the submissions received to date. Some of the submissions are available to view on the Inquiry website’s Submission Library page, with the remaining submissions to be made available in the near future.”

The Inquiry expects to release its Interim Report in mid-2017, which will summarise the submissions received and work undertaken by the Inquiry to date.  

A draft Final Report is expected to be published around October 2017, with the Final Report to be handed down to the Northern Territory Government by the end of the year.

For more information, visit