Australia's Northern Territory has lifted a almost two-year-old moratorium on fracking for shale gas but will implement strict laws to protect the environment and indigenous regions, the territorial government said on Tuesday.
Reversing of the fracking ban, which had been in place in NT for almost two years, will now open up more than half of its territory for oil and gas exploration and production.
Petroleum companies are expected to begin exploration fracking early next year.
The lifting of the moratorium followed a scientific review which recently concluded that the risk associated with the controversial well treatment could be managed.
The issue has sharply divided territorians, many of whom believe fracking threatens water supplies, but the chief minister, Michael Gunner, said on Tuesday the industry would create jobs.
Gunner said the government had accepted the inquiry's advice about no-go zones.
"The moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory will be lifted, with strict new laws to be in place before exploration or production can occur", he said, adding that 49 percent of the Territory will remain "frack-free", including national parks and reserves.
"We look forward to working with government, pastoralists, Traditional Owners and the community to deliver the benefits that will come from responsibly developing the Territory's onshore natural gas resources".