Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson was not amused by a hoax email issued on the company’s letterhead yesterday, which claimed it was abandoning plans to drill for gas in the northern rivers.
While the joke was really on protesters, who have been hoping for exactly this outcome, Mr Henderson still found cause to complain at the misuse of the company’s letterhead.
So much so that the company has referred the matter to ASIC.
The press release, which was better worded than many this office receives, was sent by Lismore secondary student Kudra Falla-Ricketts.
The 16-year-old Trinity student did not attempt to disguise her email identity and said she sent the letter before going to school yesterday morning.
The contents certainly would have been any gas opponent’s dream come true but Kudra, who is the daughter of SCU lecturer and activist Aidan Ricketts, said she didn’t think anyone would believe it.
‘We take the issue of social license [sic] seriously and it had become clear to us that communities in the northern rivers are overwhelmingly opposed to the development of industrial gasfields,’ the letter read.
‘We want to make a new start in partnership with communities in the northern rivers and to this end we will withdraw all operations from Bentley and throughout the northern rivers,’ it continued.
It went on to offer to be a partner in the region’s alternative energy plans.
‘We are proposing instead to engage in wide-raging [sic] community consultation to gain support for the construction of a baseload solar-thermal plant near Casino that will provide sustainable power to Richmond Dairies and other local industries and will add to the northern rivers’ reputation as a clean and green region focused upon sustainability and clean agriculture,’ it read.
The letter finished by apologising to people of the northern rivers for ‘the stress caused to the communities of the northern rivers as a result of our ill fated industrialisation plans’ and congratulating CSG opponents ‘for the peaceful and united way in which they have demonstrated their enthusiasm to remain a gasfield-free region’.
‘We’ve all got a sense of humour and we can all sit back and laugh at ourselves from time to time,’ Mr Henderson admitted, ‘but where do you draw the line?’
He admitted the hoax did no harm but claimed that was only because Metgasco reported the hoax to the Australia Securities Exchange before trading opened for the day.
The company issued a four-line media statement yesterday saying, ‘Metgasco Limited has been made aware of a hoax media release suggesting that Metgasco will cease conducting unconventional gas activities in the Clarence Moreton Basin. There is no substance to the hoax media release. Metgasco intends to continue its conventional and unconventional gas exploration and development activities.’
There was a temporary halt to trading in Metgasco shares on the ASX yesterday but shares were up 1.1 per cent at 9.5 cents by mid-afternoon.
Activist Jonathan Moylan is still awaiting trial for a prank he conducted last year saying the ANZ Bank was withdrawing its support from the controversial Whitehaven Coal project after that matter was referred to ASIC.