Local unconventional-gas company Metgasco has said it expects to start drilling at its Rosella E01 well by April, following state government approval of its Review of Environment Factors (REF).
The REF approval ‘will facilitate the commitment to a drilling rig and other services that are necessary for the drilling of Rosella E01,’ the company said in a media release yesterday.
‘These commitments are expected to be made shortly, after which the drilling schedule will become better defined. The current target for drilling is April this year.’
The REF covered areas including chemical use, noise, light, traffic and waste disposal.
The company expects the well to be more than 2km deep by the time it is completed.
Opposition is already ramping up at the site of the well, near Bentley in the Richmond Valley.
Yesterday a group of activists put on high heels on the grass verge outside the site to protest last week’s removal by Richmond Valley Council of volunteer-constructed steps that staff said were ‘not to Australian standard’.
Staff responded that the site would be revegetated but as activists pointed out yesterday, this is yet to happen.
Activists say the move has made the protest site ‘more dangerous than ever’.
‘They have left just a thin track next to the barbed wire fence for people to walk along, and the whole hill is in danger of becoming a slippery slide when the rain comes. The council needs to explain why they spent rate-payers money to purposely make a public safety hazard where there was none before,’ a spokesperson told Echonetdaily.
But even without ongoing concerted local opposition to the drilling, Metgasco admits it is unlikely to strike viable quantities of gas.
The gas reserves at Rosella are not in a coal seam but are known as ‘tight gas’ because they are tightly held in the surrounding sand.
‘The Rosella E01 well will test the commercially high-risk conventional and tight gas potential of the larger Greater Mackellar structure and follows the discovery of gas in sands in the Kingfisher E01 well in 2009.
Metgasco calls it ‘conventional’ gas, although this is disputed by anti-gas activists.