Dear Ms McNamara
I respond to your open letter in Echonetdaily last week.
Please let me assure you that the death threats, bomb hoax, threats to the safety of individual employees, damage to equipment and interference with the landholders’ lawful activity have been part of past well-site protests and continue today at the current Bentley well site. For example, you can search the web for the Traumaton incident early in 2013 – it could have caused a serious safety incident. Police are very aware of these incidents.
This unacceptable behavior is from a small group of people who believe that they are beyond the rule of the law. We acknowledge that few people in the Northern Rivers support it, in fact I am sure that most people are appalled by it. Having said this, you might want to reflect on the statements made by some of the anti-gas leaders and whether these statements inadvertently encourage this type of behavior. It has been disappointing that few people have spoken out and condemned this behavior, instead justifying or excusing it – perhaps you might like to.
You might also like to consider that some in the community have felt it appropriate to harass our employees and contractors over a long period of time, including tail-gating them on their way home from work. This has also been reported to police. I presume that you do not support this type of behavior?
We do have an invitation to explore – it is in the form of exploration licences issued by the democratically elected government of NSW. The NSW government is the party responsible for balancing the needs for resource development and employment along with the need to protect the environment and respect local community interests.
We have also worked in the Casino area for nearly 10 years and believe we have solid support from this community, despite the scare program conducted against the industry. The interests and needs of people around Casino are not necessarily those of the Tweed. Please also note that there are more than 4,000 voluntary land access agreements in Queensland, rural communities are thriving as a result of the industry and farms and land is more valuable.
We note that you mention the Tweed and Murwillumbah. This area is well outside our exploration licences. Review of the geology in the area shows that there is very little, if any, gas potential there and, hence, there will be no wells drilled in the area. We would be quite happy to show you the extent of the sedimentary basin to demonstrate this or you can look at government websites for this information.
We know that we can develop gas resources without damaging water or air resources. Please look at the extensive NSW government regulatory system with which we must comply. In particular, you should look at the requirements of the new Aquifer Interference Policy. Baseline monitoring is a key requirement of this policy and other NSW government licence conditions we must meet.
The well we are about to drill, Rosella, is a conventional gas exploration well – we have no approvals other than to drill the well and conduct short term (less than three days) testing. It is inconceivable that this activity could damage water or the air. As part of the program, Richmond Valley Council is independently sampling local water bores before and after drilling and will make the results available to the public.
I too am close to 60, and I am proud of working in the oil and gas industry for more than 35 years. The industry has been and remains a key to the quality of the lives we lead in Australia. It provides fuel for transport, fuel for electricity generation, energy for cooking and heating in homes, fuel for industry, and the feedstock required for plastic and fertilizer manufacture. Worldwide, the demand for gas grows every year. The industry makes an overwhelmingly positive contribution to Australian wellbeing.
By all means, protest and express your opposition, but please respect our lawful rights and those of the people we work with, and encourage others to do the same.
Peter J Henderson, CEO, Metgasco