If you can't agree on land access for petroleum activities

On 1 January 2021, the Petroleum Regulations 2020 came into effect.

This information is for petroleum companies that want to carry out authorised activities in the Northern Territory.

You must have a land access agreement in place with the landholder before you start regulated petroleum operations.

If you can't negotiate an agreement with the landholder, you can start an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.

Read below for more information.

When you can start an ADR process

You can only start an ADR process if you have already tried to negotiate with the landholder in good faith for at least 60 days.

What is an ADR process

An ADR process can be any of the following:

  • conciliation
  • facilitated negotiation
  • case appraisal
  • mediation.

It cannot be a binding process such as arbitration.

How to start the ADR process

To start an ADR process, follow these steps:

Step 1. Notify the landholder

To notify the landholder, follow these steps:

Step 1a. Fill in the alternative dispute resolution notice DOCX (70.5 KB).

You must:

  • include the type of dispute resolution you want to participate in
  • nominate a convenor to facilitate the meeting - they must be:
    • impartial and
    • have no connection to you or the landholder
  • request the landholder to participate within a specific timeframe - at least 14 days after giving notice
  • provide a statement that you agree to pay the cost of the ADR process.

Step 1b. Issue the notice to the landholder.

If the landholder agrees to your request, you can participate in the ADR process.

If the landholder doesn't respond or agree

In some cases, the landholder may not:

  • respond to your notice within the requested timeframe or
  • agree to the type of dispute resolution or your choice of facilitator.

If this happens, you can request a mediator from the mediators panel to help you.

Step 2. Notify the chief executive officer

You must notify the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade chief executive officer within seven days of issuing the ADR notice.

Follow these steps:

Step 2a. Fill in the notice to chief executive officer DOCX (65.6 KB).

Step 2b. Submit the form to Land Access.

What to expect during the ADR process

The convenor will arrange the meeting, and notify you and the landholder.

They will try to get you both to agree on land access arrangements and finalise an agreement.

Meetings may be carried out:

  • in person
  • over phone or video
  • through another option.

If you attend in person, you can:

  • bring a lawyer to represent you or
  • request someone else to assist you - the convenor will decide if the person is suitable.

What to bring to the meeting

You must provide a draft land access agreement at the meeting.

The landholder may also choose to provide their own draft agreement.

If you reach a land access agreement, the ADR process will end.

You will then need to get approval from the minister for mining and industry or their delegate.

Pay the landholder's costs

You must pay reasonable costs necessarily incurred by the landholder during the ADR process.

This can include costs for:

  • legal advice
  • accounting
  • a qualified person providing advice or reports on matters such as: 
    • land valuation
    • land capability or suitability.

You must pay within 30 days after a request for payment is made unless:

  • otherwise agreed between parties or
  • you dispute the costs.

If you dispute the costs, you can apply to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Pay costs of the convenor

You must pay for the cost of the ADR convenor.

If you are the landholder or convenor

If you are claiming for costs incurred during the ADR process, you must:

  • request payment in writing and
  • provide details and evidence of the costs you are claiming.

If you can't reach an agreement after 30 days, the ADR process will end if:

  • you request for the process to end
  • you and the landholder request for the process to end
  • the convenor decides the process isn't working and an agreement can't be reached.

If this happens, you can apply to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) for a decision to be made.

Last updated: 08 July 2021

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