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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Metgasco CEO responds

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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

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  1. I couldn’t find anything about a ‘Traumaton incident’ in early 2013 after a half hour of searching. Having an ‘invitation to explore’ granted by our democratically elected government is not the same thing as having a ‘social licence,’ particularly when our current elected state and federal governments have made promises to the public regarding Coal Seam Gas and Unconventional Gas mining which were then ignored, forgotten and/ or backflipped over once they gained power. Baseline testing is a very recent addition to the safety measures imposed on your industry – and that is largely due to the education of the public by CSG opponents and consequent outcry that something so obvious would be absent. Further, you claim it is ‘inconceivable’ that the Rosella mine activities could damage water or air yet the NSW Water Regulations which you kindly directed our attention to (in defense of the reasonablness and trustworthy nature of your industry), specify that all such activities MUST conceive of a worst case scenario and have plans prepared in advance. If you can’t conceive of a problem, how then are we to believe you could possibly be prepared to fix one – let alone acknowledge that serious issues with your industry exist? Perhaps Tweed and Murwillumbah are not in your sights – but the Northern Rivers is a deeply connected community, so what you do to our neighbours matters to us all. Your industry and the outmoded existence it represents (which is a key player in the destruction of our planet) is not welcome here.

  2. I am now repulsed when I read Peter Henderson’s comments in the press. He is used to attempting to put spin on the protest at Bentley in his attempt to turn the community against the protectors but it is getting a tad tired. The few who used to believe it can now see through all the spin.
    I do not believe there really were genuine death threats, bomb hoax’s or threats to employees as he says because the whole tone of the protectors at Bentley is not on that level. They are there to save, protect, love and cherish.
    Peter Henderson is there to divide, conquer, destroy and take.
    In the end when this majority of north coast are successful in stopping him, they will not make a cent for all their hard work and our community will be the winners.
    We love our community and support local business. If anyone says otherwise I would question their motives.

  3. hi peter
    – is that the best you can do ? – it’s pathetic !

    how come you are still ceo of metgasco ?? – i thought you were gonna get the sack if you can’t get the shareprice back up over 30c …..

    anyway, thanks …… you are one of our best assets in the campaign to stop unconventional gas…..

  4. Hmm… So if they -metgasco are only approved to conduct short term testing ( 3 days) as Peter Henderson says in his letter then why are they putting in a full onsite camp at Bentley which can stay for up to 3 months? Sounds like a bit of gas mining spin to me!
    We don’t want your dirty industry here!
    And this ‘small group of people’ you refer to mr Henderson….well, you might want to take of your rose coloured glasses and smell the FRESH AIR because 1 thing is for sure, we are not a small group but rather LARGE whole communities!

  5. Thank you to those who commented on my original letter and Mr Henderson’s reply.

    Mr Henderson – You do not have a social licence to operate yet continue to seek to impose your dirty industry on the Northern Rivers, despite having said on ABC radio some time back that you would not go where you were not wanted.

    Despite the widespread and well documented and researched reports from scientists such as Dr Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University, Dr Marion Lloyd Smith from the Australian Toxics Network, from The Australia Institute and others, you continue your mad Gas rush’.

    While you say that Tweed has nothing to do with Casino, you are quite willing to use Queensland. Debating tricks do not substitute for substantive arguments and evidence!

    Also, the Aquifer Interference Policy is a well named document, showing how developers may interfere with the aquifer within the existing law. What we need is an Aquifer Protection Policy!


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