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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Metgasco gets go-ahead

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The Bungabee Road entrance to Metgasco's E101 test drilling site at Bentley. Photo Marie Cameron
The Bungabee Road entrance to Metgasco’s E101 test drilling site at Bentley. Photo Marie Cameron

Chris Dobney

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.

High-heeled activists protest the removal of the steps at the Bentley CSG site yesterday.
High-heeled activists protest the removal of the steps at the Bentley CSG site yesterday.

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.

The removal of steps at the Bentley test gas well site and lack of subsequent revegetation by Richmond Valley Council has made the are more dangerous, protesters say.


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  1. Well casings fail over time
    METGASCO ROSELLA E01 REVIEW of ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS reveals POTENTIAL for damage to aquivers see p66

    Do you trust that Metgasco can effect ‘adequate control’ ???
    6.1.2 Water
    …Without adequate controls potential impacts to groundwater
    may include:
    Migration of water between aquifers; and
    Changes to pressure and
    quality of aquifers

  2. The stairs built by the activists to make the hill safe for protestors were really well built using thick timber and star pickets, and looked a whole lot nicer, sturdier and safer than many council-built steps found in some of our council parks and national parks. Casino Council came along with a truck, an excavator and 4 staff, attending for several hours, to destroy those steps and replace them with what you now see in those photos above. It’s unbelievable!!! How can they justify spending so much money to destroy the efforts of volunteers, who had done what the Council should have done in the first place, and then leave this mess – a slippery, non revegetated slope that will become a mud slide after the next heavy rain? If they force protestors down onto the dangerous,high speed road below, and there is an accident, this council will have blood on its hands.

  3. Conventional or unconventional gas doesn’t matter. It’s the use of fracking and creation of a gasfield (unconventional mining technology) that’s the threat. And natural gas is only natural when it’s deep underground in its natural state. But this is just smart-arse word-play. The Rosella well is supposed to be exploratory. That means, either results show there’s not enough gas to merit further investment, in which case it’s pointless drilling it at all, or results show there is enough gas, in which case this well is undoubtedly the thin end of a very large wedge.


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