The Beetaloo Basin in Australia shows promise, but it will take teamwork to bring the gas reserves to market.

Dick Stoneburner, Tamboran Resources Ltd. chairman and Petrohawk Energy Corp. co-founder, said Tamboran, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2021, is developing “a major, major” gas resource and is working with the government and companies like Helmerich & Payne (H&P) and APA Corp. to move the discovery toward production.

Tamboran holds about 4.7 million acres in the Beetaloo Basin, and the play compares strongly to U.S. gas plays such as the Marcellus, Stoneburner said at Hart Energy’s America’s Natural Gas Conference in September.

The company’s Shenandoah South 1H well, drilled by the H&P Flex 3 rig, found about 300 ft (90 m) of high-quality shale with strong dry gas shows, Tamboran announced in August. Two Beetaloo wells operated by Australia’s Santos, in which Tamboran holds an interest, delivered “very good results” with “nice reserve bases,” Stoneburner said.

As promising as the wells to date have been, Stoneburner believes it’s possible to do better.

“The two best wells for the basin we have drilled more effectively than any of the others. That's not saying much,” he said. 

Some wells have been slow and expensive, and stimulation jobs on others haven’t been optimal.

“We're confident that what we've learned on the last well and having H&P on our team, we can knock this down from 21 days” to 15 to 18 days through efficiencies and borrowing from best practices in American shale plays, Stoneburner said. 

Stoneburner said Tamboran aims to produce 1.5 Bcf/d from the Beetaloo Basin by 2030 or 2035, with some production going to gas markets and some to the proposed Northern Territory LNG (NTLNG) project. Early production could start in 2025 from Phase One at a rate of 40 MMcf/d relying on seven wells sending gas to the Northern Territory and East Coast gas markets. Phase Two would deliver 500 MMcf/d from 90 wells in 2028. Phase Three would see 55 wells delivering an additional 2.2 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), or 300 MMcf/d, to NTLNG as of 2030 and ultimately reaching 6.6 mtpa, or 1 Bcf/d.

Stoneburner said alliances are important for working in the Beetaloo

“We're out here kind of by ourselves. This is not like you've got the Permian Basin with a hundred different operators and acreage scattered all over the place. We've got 4 million acres sitting there right next to each other, so we need some help to get this done,” he said. 

One of the most critical alliances was with H&P, which moved a drilling rig from Texas to Australia. 

“Having somebody like H&P not only invest in equity into the company, but commit iron in a part of the world where they've never been before” was important for Tamboran, he said.

Alliances Bringing Australia’s Beetaloo to Life
Tamboran’s Beetaloo Basin asset location map. (Source: Tamboran)

Under a midstream alliance with APA, the companies will jointly develop gas transmission pipelines connecting Tamboran’s Beetaloo Basin assets to the East Coast gas market and Darwin.

The Northern Territory government awarded Tamboran a 420-acre site at Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct for the proposed NTLNG project, which is between three and seven days from gas markets, he said.

“This is the most advantaged gas molecule, from a transport standpoint, in the world,” he said. “We're closer to more demand centers than anybody else.”