Petroleum resource management

The Northern Territory (NT) owns all petroleum resources - both onshore and in coastal waters - in the NT.

The Department of Primary Industry and Resources administers and regulates petroleum tenure and activities in these areas.

This includes petroleum resource exploration, development and the construction and operation of oil and gas facilities and transmission pipelines.


Petroleum exploration and production is governed by the following legislation:

Exploration and production in waters beyond the three mile limit comes under the Commonwealth National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA).  Go to the NOPTA website for information about offshore petroleum.

Petroleum discovery

You must report any discovery of petroleum in your permit area to the department within three days.

You must submit the notification to the department along with all the following information:

  • the title in which the discovery was made
  • the name of the well through which the discovery was made
  • if known, the rate or quantity of production of petroleum and water from the well
  • the physical and chemical properties of the petroleum if assessed
  • a preliminary estimate of quantities of petroleum discovered

You must also send a discovery assessment report to the petroleum operations division within 90 days of the discovery.  This report should include all of the following information:

  • the location of the petroleum pool
  • the estimated amount of petroleum resources by classification in accordance with the Society of Petroleum Engineers Petroleum Resource Management System reporting guidelines.
  • the data, assumptions and methodologies upon which the estimates are based
  • a description of the reservoir (simulation) models used, a comparison of results with those previously obtained and a discussion of any implications regarding petroleum recovery
  • any specific reports prepared during the year by the interest holder and or independent third party in connection with reserves estimation and classification, reservoir performance and production optimization.

Go to the Society of Petroleum Engineers website to access the Petroleum Resource Management System reporting guidelines.

Revision in estimated recoverable or in place petroleum

When a study resulting in a revised estimate of recoverable or in place petroleum in a pool has been carried out you must submit a report of the study findings.

Every five years you must submit an independent expert report with an assessment of petroleum resources in the production licence area.

How to submit your notification

You can submit your petroleum discovery notification by emailing

Last updated: 24 April 2018


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