Petroleum Retention Licence / Lease - Northern Territory


You will need a licence or lease if you discover petroleum resources that have development potential, and are not currently commercially viable, but are likely to be viable within 15 years. Petroleum means any naturally occurring oil or gas. To be commercially viable, petroleum must be of a commercial quality and quantity.

If you hold a retention licence or lease, you will need to actively work towards making the discovered resource commercially viable. Special conditions to ensure this happens may be attached to the licence or lease.

When the resource is considered to be commercially viable, you must convert the retention licence or lease to a production licence.

This licence or lease applies to both onshore and coastal petroleum discoveries.

Service type


A licence defines the need to obtain recognition / certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible to apply for a retention licence or lease you must have discovered petroleum resources that are not currently commercially viable but likely to be within 15 years.


A license or lease has an initial term of 5 years. The licence or lease may be renewed of the resource is still not commercially viable.


Fees Details for this service in table format.

Task Type Business Structure Description
Apply Application All

Fees for 2023-24 can be found here.

Other resources

Application process


You must apply in writing and provide the following information with your application:

  • details of the petroleum exploration permit history
  • detailed five year work program to develop the resource's commerciality
  • project feasibility reports
  • reports of reviews of exploration data
  • proposed seismic surveys and drill wells
  • estimates of expenditure in nominal dollars
  • other work designed to progress the licence or lease towards commercialisation.

Administering agency

Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

Energy Division

Contact details

Contact Email, Phone and Address Details for this service in simple two column table format, header then data.