There’s a new approach by activists battling against the planned natural gas industry expansion in the region: a number of Metgasco’s largest shareholders have been sent a letter advising them about the size and effectiveness of the social movement that opposes its operations.
It comes as protesters gear up for a fight against proposed drilling operations at Bentley, near Lismore.
Michael Qualmann, on behalf of Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, sent the letters last week saying that Metgasco had been understating the scale of public opposition and that the regional community was well organised and had undertaken training in non-violent direct action.
Mr Qualmann says Byron Bay resident John Vaughan, whose super fund is listed in Metgasco’s 2013 annual return as its eighth largest shareholder, contacted Mr Qualmann after the letter was sent and told him that he may lose his home in litigation.
‘I don’t know why anyone would consider this litigious,’ Mr Qualmann told Echonetdaily, ‘I’m actually doing the shareholders a service by providing them with information about risks to their investment that they may not be aware of’.
He also referred to the 87 per cent who voted against gasfield developments in the Lismore poll and that over 119 communities had declared themselves gasfield free by margins over 90 per cent and were prepared to fight to prevent gasfield establishment.
Both Mr Vaughan and CEO of Metgasco, Peter Henderson, declined to comment to Echonetdaily.
According to its 2013 annual report, Metgasco holds 100 per cent interest in three petroleum exploration licences (PELs) covering approximately 4,556km2 in the Clarence Morton Basin (CMB) in northern NSW.
‘In March 2013 Metgasco made the decision to suspend its field operations in the CMB,’ the report said.
‘It was in response to the announcement of proposed new and unexpected NSW government regulations. Field operations will recommence when the regulatory and business environment is suitable. In the meantime the company is reviewing energy investment opportunities in areas outside NSW.’
As for likely developments and likely results, Metgasco fails to mention community opposition and instead says, ‘Metgasco has an active community engagement program underway in the Casino area and is reviewing energy opportunities in states outside NSW’.
No dividends have been paid or declared since the end of the previous year and no dividends have been recommended by the directors in respect to the year ended June 30, 2013.
Metgasco’s managing director Peter Henderson earned $458,598 last financial year, including shares.
There are no women represented on the board or in senior executive positions, but they do make up 11 per cent of the entire organisation.
The largest shareholders include ERM Power Ltd (total 12.65 per cent of shares), Daleford Way Pty Ltd (1.91 per cent), HSBC (Aust), Citicorp, Kalsie Holdings Pty Ltd, Fast Freeze International Ltd, Dansar Pty Ltd (J&A Vaughan Super Fund A/C) at 1.15 per cent or 5,212,774 shares held), Mr David Johnson, Mr Peter Stanmore, Magnim Pty Ltd, Litwick Enterprises, Mr Sin Mong Wong & Ms Seng Bee Teoh, Sharon Hooper, Mr James Gardiner, Ms Glenda McLoughlin, Mr Peter Henderson, Maxa, St Baker Investments.