The Japanese oil and gas exploration giant behind a multi-billion dollar LNG project offshore in the Northern Territory will begin its first onshore explorations.
Chief Minister Adam Giles announced on Friday that Inpex was granted a permit for a 4000km2 acreage of 50 blocks in the Beetaloo sub-basin, "which is one of the territory's most prospective areas for onshore petroleum".
Located by the Stuart Highway near Daly Waters, about 600km south-west of Darwin, the acreage is crossed by the Amadeus gas pipeline.
"The acreage is the first to be released as part of the government's `use-it or lose-it' policy, which aims to stimulate active exploration of granted land across the NT, Mr Giles said.
"This policy is designed to ensure there's a streamlined approach to accessing land for petroleum exploration and promotes open competition in the industry," he said.
The five-year project will be given the final go-ahead once Inpex Oil and Gas Australia advertise for objections, complete and register all legislative requirements, and negotiate to reach agreement with Native Title holders.
The process, which is required for any future offer of an exploration permit, will also involve consultation with pastoral land lease holders, and could take up to two years.