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Metgasco to recommence exploration

Metgasco has contracted Terrex Pty Ltd to complete a seismic survey within its licensed exploration area, PEL 16, west of Lismore. The company, which also holds PELs 426 and 13 (426 covers much of the Clarence Valley), expects to carry out the survey in the second half of November. In an ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) media release, Metgasco says the NSW Government has approved the work following a review of environmental factors. “The additional [16 kilometres of] seismic [acquisition] is expected to provide increased confidence … before testing the prospect [area] with the planned Rosella well [at Bentley],” the release states. “The purpose of the program is to provide more definition of the northern extent of the Greater Mackellar conventional/tight [sands] gas exploration licence.” Metgasco’s managing director, Peter Henderson, said the survey would be “very low impact” and “non-invasive”, and that the “program will be run along existing roads and will have minimal impact on the local community or landholders”. Metgasco plans to announce the contractor and the proposed timing for the Rosella drilling program in the next few weeks. Anti gas activists and Lismore’s mayor, Jenny Dowell, have vowed to continue opposing the seismic survey and the Rosella drilling. Mayor Dowell was quoted in another newspaper: “Our community is not just going to let this happen. “It seems to me like a very foolish move but I think there [are] motivations there that go beyond the need for seismic testing. “In the meantime council’s attitude is no.” A Gasfield Free Northern Rivers media release states that the “plans for seismic acquisition at Rock Valley and … drilling at Bentley have been met with renewed determination and commitment from the local community”. “…The government made [Metgasco] an offer to withdraw easily from the Northern Rivers and Minister Roberts has said that they remain willing to negotiate. “Metgasco should take the money and run.”   METGASCO v NSW GOVERNMENT May 14, 2014: The NSW Government suspends Metgasco’s right to drill at its Rosella site because the Office of Coal Seam Gas believes the company did not comply with its community consultation obligations. April 24, 2015: The Supreme Court overturns the suspension of Metgasco’s drilling approval. Nationals, Kevin Hogan and Chris Gulaptis, are quoted by the ABC, urging the government to appeal against the decision. The NSW Government fails to lodge an appeal before the May 22 cut off date. May 25: Metgasco announces it “would now like to meet with [the] government to discuss the damage caused to Metgasco as a result of the suspension decision and the future of the gas industry in the Clarence electorate”. September 1: The ABC reports: “Metgasco will go to court to seek tens of millions of dollars in damages from the New South Wales Government relating to the suspension of the company’s 2014 drilling program” and that “Industry, Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said the government … remained ready to continue negotiations in good faith.” September 3: Metgasco issues a media release which states: “It was reported in the media yesterday that the government has made a substantial offer to Metgasco. “Metgasco advises that the government has made a non-binding indicative offer with a value range and associated conditions. “The directors do not consider this range would be acceptable to shareholders, even at the upper end.” September 7: Metgasco announces that “on Friday, 4 September, it served a statement of claim on the NSW Government for damages associated with the unlawful suspension of its Rosella drilling program in 2014. “The matter will be heard in the NSW Supreme Court on dates that are yet to be defined. “Metgasco has sought compensation without the need for court action, but to date has not been successful in this regard.”   Meanwhile, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis told the Independent that the NSW Government is “still negotiating with Metgasco; the government’s position hasn’t changed”. “The government is actively working at buying back licences in the Northern Rivers and is working with Metgasco to achieve that. “My preferred outcome is that they are able to negotiate a compromise and I think that’s what most people in the Northern Rivers want, as well.”