Transforming Middle Arm into a globally competitive, sustainable precinct with a focus on low emission petrochemicals, renewable hydrogen, carbon capture storage and minerals processing.
Middle Arm is already home to a globally significant liquefied natural gas (LNG) export hub, with the Santos-led Darwin LNG and INPEX-led Ichthys LNG projects supplying over 10 per cent of Japan’s and Taiwan’s annual global LNG imports.
Sustainable precincts incorporate:
- co-location of industries with shared infrastructure needs
- integration and maximised use of renewable energy
- efficient water use, including reuse and waste water treatment where possible
- circular economy principles including recycling of waste streams.
In 2022, the Australian Government committed $2 billion for the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct which includes:
- a $1.5 billion investment in marine infrastructure on the Middle Arm Peninsula. This includes the building a modular offloading facility (MOF) and common user wharf, as well as widening the shipping channel for port access to the precinct.
- an additional $200m to deliver land based components including upgrades to roads, building a rail spur through the precinct and the development of a new road network for the industrial subdivision.
- a $300m investment driving the development of a carbon capture and storage hub to realise low emissions manufacturing and clean hydrogen production within the precinct.
- to realise low emissions manufacturing and clean hydrogen production within the precinct.
In addition to:
- $440 million to build new logistics hubs at Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek to facilitate expanded export activity.
- a $300 million investment for the Darwin Regional Water Supply Program.
With increasing demand for carbon neutral products created from low emissions manufacturing and supply chains, a dedicated sustainable precinct presents significant growth opportunities for the Territory. Driving this demand is our global trading partners, with more than 50 per cent of Australia’s two-way trade with countries that have 2050 net zero emissions targets.
The Territory has all the ingredients to capture our low emissions manufacturing and processing opportunity, with:
- untapped proven gas reserves offshore and a world-class shale gas resource onshore
- highly prospective geological storage to sequester carbon dioxide emissions
- critical minerals reserves including copper, lithium, vanadium, rare earths, tungsten and cobalt
- access to renewable energy sources
- established construction, logistics and operations capability
- proximity to international markets.
Leading energy intensive industry growth underpinned by decarbonisation innovations and carbon offset sector development is a key component of our approach to sustainable development. Integration of a carbon capture and utilisation (CCUS) hub and renewable power has the potential to capture 97 per cent of LNG production carbon and 95 per cent of ammonia, methanol and an ethane cracker carbon.
Prioritising development of the precinct enables the Territory to capitalise on competitive advantages, drive local industry development, generate jobs and create long-term opportunities for the Territory that will see us move away from the boom and bust cycles of our past.
We're creating an attractive environment where industry can invest today knowing the Territory is committed to future-proofing industry development aligned with our global transition to a net-zero emissions future.
The Northern Territory Government is leading development of a precinct master plan, a proven approach to lower investment risk, accelerate decision making and to capture market conditions to support positioning the Territory as the place where doing business is efficient and streamlined.
We are progressing negotiations with offshore field operators to provide competitively priced feedstock to enable initial industry investments. This opportunity is well aligned for domestic production and current modelling suggests gas feedstock could be secured at globally competitive rates.
Master planning at-scale is enabling precinct co-creation with industry and the Australian Government, to optimise development pathways and shared infrastructure investment staging to maximise integration efficiencies and reduce capital-intensive duplication of resources
We have teams of people focused on collaborative planning, commercialisation and infrastructure development requirements, this includes:
- over 200 studies to inform multi-user foundational infrastructure design and business case development
- determining industry requirements, infrastructure marine, geotechnical and services assessments and marine navigation
- engaging with the major oil and gas companies, hydrogen and other proponents about investment opportunities
- mapping the industrial ecology that will create the greatest value
- delivering project finance assessment and economic models to commercialise development
- supporting ecosystem readiness including land access and availability, zoning regulations, tenure options and optimal industry clusters aligned to emerging supply and demand
- identification of opportunities to minimise, recycle and re-use waste.
Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) of the proposed precinct is underway to meet Territory and Australian Government requirements, forecast for lodgement at the end of quarter one 2023.
Construction of shared infrastructure is expected to begin in 2025, upon successful completion of environmental approvals.
Environmental considerations are paramount in planning for the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct. Baseline investigations are underway, including identifying the diversity of plants and animals, marine environmental values, and air and water quality data to inform planning to protect environmental values during any future development.
These activities mark the first stages of an assessment process that will occur over a number of years, to ensure the project reduces, mitigates and offsets potential environmental impacts.
Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority referral
The project has been referred to the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (NT EPA), as required under the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Act 2019.
Feedback on the referral is invited through the NT EPA website, open for submission until 10 June 2022.
Strategic Environmental Assessment
The Northern Territory Government signed a Strategic Environmental Assessment Agreement with the Australian Government under the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This aligns with, but is separate from the referral to the NT EPA.
Strategic assessments consider a broad set of development activities over a larger scale and timeframe to provide certainty for both industry and community.
This is a holistic and efficient approach, assessing cumulative impacts rather than individual projects assessments in isolation, providing greater certainty for industry and delivering better environmental outcomes.
The assessment will:
- consider the competitive advantage of the precinct
- consider scenarios of development and the implications for issues such as land clearing, water and energy use, emissions and discharges and infrastructure needs
- determine the potential cumulative biophysical, economic, social, cultural and health impacts
- provide advice on the most appropriate projects that might be approved and conditions that should apply to project-level approvals
- recommend governance structures, such as management of the precinct, conditions that should apply to individual projects and ongoing monitoring and management of all potential impacts
- outline desired sustainability outcomes and how they are best achieved.
A proposed development can be assessed and approved via a strategic environmental assessment.
The draft Terms of Reference for the Strategic Environmental Assessment are available for public comment through the Have Your Say website until 10 June 2022.
The NT EPA will consider public submissions on the project referral and the draft Terms of Reference for a Strategic Environmental Assessment before deciding whether assessment by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
The EIS is a document used to systematically identify environmental impacts from a proposed development, including all surroundings of humans including physical, biological, economic, cultural and social aspects.
The statement will consider how the precinct may impact the land, sea, air, freshwater systems, people and how matters of national environmental significance will be impacted.
A single EIS can be used for the Northern Territory and Australian Government environment assessment and approval processes which provides a streamlined public exhibition and feedback process.
Airshed model development
Over 500 local businesses who produce emissions in Greater Darwin have been invited to contribute in development of an airshed model for the region as part of air quality management planning.
The model will be informed by data obtained from light industrial business data submissions and heavy industry mandatory emission reporting through the NT EPA. The airshed model will:
- establish an emissions baseline reflecting the current status of emissions-producing activities
- demonstrate which pollutants exist and where, and help assess optimal new industry locations
- support industrial development planning by measuring the effects of additional emitting activities
- assist with regulating emissions from heavy industry
- plan the regional monitoring network by understanding where air quality is being impacted.
The circa 1500 hectare Middle Arm peninsula, as part of the 323,000 hectare Darwin Harbour, was first identified as a future industry area in 1984 as part of the Darwin Regional Land Use Plan.
The precinct has an extensive product corridor network for the transmission of utilities, gas, feedstock and products. All lots will be serviced with power, water and communications infrastructure. There is also potential for high and low pressure gas to be reticulated throughout the estate.
Planning is underway for enabling infrastructure, including marine infrastructure, such as modular off-loading and common user facilities to support the construction of potential new plants, as well as ship loading facilities to support the export of the product from these plants. Land based infrastructure would include roads, drainage, power, water and telecommunications services, as well as provisions for product corridors into and within the precinct.
With gas feedstock being supplied through product corridors, high and low pressure gas availability throughout the estate will support co-location of various downstream manufacturing proponents. The estate also benefits from two power stations in Channel Island and Weddell, well situated to service emerging industry requirements.
The Land Development Corporation proposes to develop two estates at the precinct:
- Kittyhawk Estate – Stage one of this 300 hectare estate has commenced construction.
- Spitfire Estate – This 300 hectare estate will be developed as demand requires. civil development progress
View the civil development progress at stage one of Kittyhawk Estate
Draft master plan development will include a robust approach to engaging and collaborating with stakeholders. Stakeholders can register interest by emailing: Contact.MASDP@nt.gov.au.
The culmination of master planning activities will be realised in the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct Prospectus estimated for release in 2022. Register your interest by emailing: GasTaskforce.CMC@nt.gov.au