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April 11, 2021

Metgasco faces long wait for day in court

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Metgasco's licence to drill at Bentley remains suspended. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Metgasco’s licence to drill at Bentley remains suspended until at least October. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Metgasco will not know until October, at the earliest, whether it can convince the Supreme Court to overturn the state government’s suspension of its Bentley gas exploration licence.

Last Friday (July 4), Metgasco appeared in the NSW Supreme Court to again request a judicial review of the decision made by the Office of Coal Seam Gas (OCSG), which suspended the licence in May on the grounds of inadequate consultation.

The company mothballed its initial court hearing after the government agreed to expedite an OSCG investigation into the suspension.

On June 26 OSCG released its report upholding the suspension on the grounds of inadequate community consultation.

The company said yesterday that while the court has agreed to Metgasco’s request to expedite the hearing, ‘due to existing court commitments, the first available date for the hearing is likely to be no earlier than October.’

Company chairman Les Gill said the decision to take court action ‘has not been taken lightly, but with significant shareholders’ funds invested in exploring in the northern rivers gas resources, Metgasco has no other choice.’

Metgasco wrote to its shareholders yesterday saying the suspension was on grounds the company considered to be spurious, ‘that we had failed to undertake “effective consultation” and that our consultation contained an alleged “mischaracterisation” of the planned Rosella well.’

The letter, signed by Mr Gill, claimed the NSW government had ‘already caused a financial loss in the order of $3 million to the company, in addition to causing an approximate 40 per cent reduction in share price.’

‘The prime reasons for the suspension decision appear to have little to do with Metgasco’s efforts to consult in good faith with the local community,’ the letter reads, ‘but rather a concern about protests by activists who demonstrably have no interest in consultation.

‘The new OCSG position has no reference to the alleged “mischaracterisation” of the Rosella well that was a key component of its 14 May letter,’ Mr Gill said.

‘The material provided in the OCSG’s response implies a seismic shift in the OCSG’s interpretation of “effective consultation”, which Metgasco considers does not accord with the OCSG’s own guidelines. We also do not consider the OCSG’s position is reasonable or practical.’

Metgasco says it expects the court to overturn the suspension decision.

‘It is our intention to resume drilling of the Rosella conventional well as soon as practicable after this time.  We will be seeking an assurance from the NSW Government that lawful activity in the northern rivers will be supported and protected,’ Mr Gill said.

The letter also indicated, for the first time, that the company is looking for opportunities outside the northern rivers.

‘We remain confident that gas development in our exploration licence areas can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on the northern rivers and NSW.  However, given the delays and uncertainties in NSW, we will also be considering opportunities outside the northern rivers that complement our ability to recover value from the northern rivers resource,’ the letter said.

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  1. Metgasco’s intention to resume drilling remains completely at odds with the intention of the vast majority of landowners and residents of this area.

    It is untrue that merely a handful of protestors wish for Metgasco’s dismissal from this area. Such a claim is yet another fallacy offered up from a company that has already earned itself a very unflattering reputation.

    Whilst the actual number varies depending on the specific data collected from within the various ridings of the Northern Rivers electorates, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority are against Metgasco’s Gollum-like grasping of our ‘Precious’ and will
    continue to stand firm.

    You can’t put a dollar value on our precious lifestyle, health, and an environment that is much cherished, but Metgasco will, one hopes, eventually comprehend just how great our love of this land is, and how impossible a battle it will be for his company to force its way through those who best love this place.

    That being the case, it would appear foolhardy inthe extreme to linger for a further period awaiting an uncertain decision regarding suspension vs cancellation, wouldn’t it.

  2. If you have Fiasco shares now is the time to dump them. This lead balloon doubles as a Led Zeppellin. Without the rock – just the bang!

  3. How would one request an investigation into The fiasco selling huge amounts of shares during the few days they suspended trading, when licence was first suspended? That seemed a bit dodgy – anyone have the time totake up that challenge ?

  4. Imagine Metgasco being so perceptive as to notice the “activists who demonstrably have no interest in consultation.” Guess that those devastated by Attliia the Hun in about AD 451 or so wouldn’t have wanted to consult either. Why would you want to consult with an implacable foe who couldn’t give a fig for your welfare? Heaven help the next unfortunate district Metgasco the Hun plan to invade, good luck in your “consultation” which is not a consultation at all.

  5. Thanks to Margaret Howe for the following as printed in a letter to the Echo. How about everyone takes the time to contact ASIC via their website and request an investigation?

    Re: Metgasco’s annual reports: ERM was not in the top 20 shareholders in 2011. It was only in 2012 that ERM started buying in heavily and became the second largest shareholder with 31,841,903 shares. The annual report of 2013 shows ERM’s shareholding increased to 57,122,009 shares when it became Metgasco’s largest shareholder (12.61 per cent).

    Who was the buyer of 6,340,898 shares which were traded on Friday, 16 May 2014? Was it ERM, who appear to have been buying shares at seriously depleted prices?

    On 15 May Metgasco shares were suspended on the stock exchange and a statement made that the trading would not recommence until 19 May. Why were Metgasco shares traded on 16 May with 6,340,898 shares changing hands?


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