The two leading operators in Australia's Beetaloo shale gas exploration play are absorbed in important drilling operations that should help answer the question of whether or not the area is commercial.

The two operators — Santos and Origin Energy — are busy in different parts of the Beetaloo and McArthur area in the remote Northern Territory.

It is expected that by the end of 2021 there should be enough information to answer the question about commerciality, according to Australian energy commentator and analyst EnergyQuest.