'Hottest play on the planet': Beetaloo explorer aims high

The Northern Territory's remote Beetaloo Basin could be supplying gas to the east coast years before most people expect and in time to head off shortages forecast to arise from 2023, according to the head of Santos' junior partner in its drilling project.

Joel Riddle, chief executive of Tamboran Resources, described the exploration area in the NT as "the hottest play on the planet", based on much better than expected flow rates from testing at the Tanumbirini-1 well last week and the ready market for gas on the east coast and in Asia.

The Tanumbirini-1 well in the Northern Territory has raised hopes for a commercial gas project. Santos

Tamboran, backed by two huge US funds, is heading for an ASX sharemarket listing early next year, either through an IPO of up to $195 million or a reverse takeover of a listed junior. It is one of several players working – amid opposition from environmental groups – to firm up a potentially huge gas resource in the NT that could prove to be Australia's answer to the US "shale gale".

The explorer, which holds 25 per cent of the exploration venture with Santos, is also backed by Rich Lister Paul Fudge, who made billions from the sale of coal seam gas acreage during Queensland's CSG boom.

The Tanumbirini-1 well lies about 80 kilometres to the east of where Origin Energy is working with North Amerca's Falcon Oil & Gas, which are due to release test gas flow rates from their drilling within weeks. Also in the region is junior Empire Energy, which this month reported encouraging early results from its drilling that suggested the presence of oil as well as gas.