Reach a land access agreement to carry out petroleum operations
On 1 January 2021, the Petroleum Regulations 2020 came into effect.
If you want to carry out regulated petroleum operations in the Northern Territory (NT), you must apply for land access.
This means negotiating and reaching a land access agreement with the landholder whose land you want to access.
This is required under the Petroleum Regulations 2020.
You must also get the land access agreement approved by the minister for mining and industry or their delegate.
It is an offence to start any regulated petroleum operations before the agreement is approved.
Read below to find out how to apply.
Before you begin
You must complete this process if you want to access land held under:
The landholder can be the owner or occupier of the land.
Who is a landowner or occupier
The landowner may own:
- a freehold title
- a pastoral or Crown lease.
The land occupier may hold:
- a lease or sublease over a freehold title
- a sublease or under lease over a pastoral or Crown lease.
When you don't need a land access agreement
You don’t need a land access agreement if the land you want to access is:
- vacant Crown land
- Aboriginal freehold land.
You also don’t need a land access agreement with native title parties.
If you want to carry out preliminary activities or aerial surveys, you must follow a separate process.
What to include in the agreement
The land access agreement must contain minimum protections for the landholder.
These protections should address issues such as:
- livestock disturbance
- access points
- damage and repairs
- legal liabilities and indemnities
- costs and guarantees.
For more information, read schedule 2 of the Petroleum Regulations 2020.
You can also negotiate other provisions and include these in the agreement.
Term of a land access agreement
The term of a land access agreement cannot exceed the term balance of your petroleum title.
For example, if you are granted an exploration permit for five years, the term of your agreement can’t exceed your permit’s expiry date.
To start negotiations, a petroleum company must follow the steps below:
To notify the landholder, follow these steps:
Step 1a. Fill in the negotiation notice .
You must include the following information:
- a plan and description of the land you want access to
- your petroleum interest
- activities you want to carry out
- how long the activities will take
- your contact details
- a statement that you agree to pay costs reasonably and necessarily incurred by the landholder.
You may also choose to provide the landholder with a draft land access agreement.
Step 1b. Issue the notice to the landholder.
If the landholder is the occupier
If the landholder is the occupier of the land, you must:
- provide a copy of the negotiation notice to the landowner and
- explain that you are seeking a land access agreement with the land occupier.
You should provide the copy within 14 days of giving it to the land occupier.
Once you have issued the notice, you and the landholder can start negotiating.
Negotiations must be for at least 60 days but can be for longer if you both agree.
A land access agreement must be:
- in writing and
- signed by both parties.
If you reach an agreement
You must get your land access agreement approved by the minister for mining and industry or their delegate.
The NT Government is not a party to the agreement but must ensure it meets the minimum requirements under the Petroleum Regulations 2020.
If you can't reach an agreement
Find out what to do if you can't agree on land access.
If you breach an agreement
If you breach a land access agreement or the Petroleum Regulations 2020, you may:
- commit an offence
- be prosecuted
- have your agreement terminated by the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
If your agreement is terminated, you will need to stop any regulated petroleum operations you are conducting over subject land within your title area.
For more information, contact the Land Access.
Last updated: 15 February 2021
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