Apply for exploration and production activity approval

Drilling and workover

Applications for drilling or workover activities fall into two categories:

  • project applications: for approval prior to the drilling or workover operations commencing
  • operational applications: for approval for a specific well activity when a drilling or workover operation has already commenced.

Project applications: drilling and workover

You must submit a project application when approval is required to commence and carry out an entire project for which approval has not already been granted.

Examples of projects requiring an application for approval include all of the following:

  • entering a site to drill a new well
  • re-entering and working over an existing well
  • re-entering a well to carry out any particular well activity.

Operations must not commence until all approvals have been obtained from the department and other authorities.

How to apply

You must submit your application in writing. The letter must be signed by the custodian of the project.

Depending on the type of project, the following documentation, identified by document number and current version number, may be required as part of the assessment process:

The application must include all of the following:

    • survey program including the area of the seismic survey
    • environmental management (EMP) plan including measures that will be put in place to protect the environment (including rehabilitation and conservation planning) in the location of the seismic survey and EMP summary
    • safety management plan
    • insurance certificate(s)
    • emergency response plan
    • oil spill contingency plan
    • environment rehabilitation security calculation form
    • stakeholder consultation log
    • cultural/sacred site clearances
    • land access agreements/notice of entry.

Unless addressed within the environmental management plan, separate documents to be submitted also include: 

  • bushfire management plan 
  • erosion and sediment control plan
  • weed management plan 
  • dust management plan
  • traffic management plan 
  • biodiversity management plan
  • waste management plan.

The application letter must be dated and signed off by the custodian of the project.

Before final approval is granted you must: 

  • pay the rehabilitation security deposit.
  • submit the environmental management plan summary.

Operational applications: drilling and workover

You must submit an operational application when approval is required to carry out a particular activity within a project which has already commenced.

Operational activities are those leading to a specific change and so for this reason, are activities that go outside the already approved work program.

Examples of well activities requiring an application for approval include all of the following:

  • any activity that goes outside the already approved work program
  • side tracking a well
  • suspension
  • abandonment
  • flow testing
  • well completion.

Given the high cost of rig day rates, this can place considerable demands on all human resources. For this reason, you must provide  notice of any impending operation as soon as possible. 

To avoid rig delays, operators are strongly encouraged to submit draft applications earlier than the 5 day assessment timeframe.

Read more about well suspension and abandonment.

How to apply

Your letter of application should make specific reference to clause(s) in the NT schedule for onshore petroleum exploration and production requirements 2016 under which the activity requires approval, and be signed by the custodian of the project and include:

  • the work program to be carried out - including current well schematic. 
  • the version of the work program should be stated and the document should have been dated and signed off by the responsible parties
  • any bridging documents or addendums to the project environmental plan or other relevant originally submitted documents
  • the proposed final well schematic.

You must allow a minimum of 3 days for assessment of operational applications.

How to submit applications

You must submit the letter and supporting documentation for the project or operational application to the Senior Director Petroleum Technology and Operations by emailing


For help you can contact the Petroleum Operations team by emailing

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Last updated: 15 August 2016


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