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Byron Shire
January 26, 2021

Metgasco returns to Dobies Bight

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Just weeks after selling its northern rivers CSG licences to the state government, Metgasco’s trucks have been spotted at its former Corella site at Dobies Bight,

CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Dean Draper returned to the scene of one of the group’s earliest confrontations with the gas explorer yesterday to witness the company capping off its test wells there.

‘Metgasco is here closing off wells. Apparently they have two drill rigs onsite although only one is apparent,’ Mr Draper told Echonetdaily yesterday afternoon.

‘They seem to be pumping cement down the wells to close them off,’ he added.

But Mr Draper said he was not convinced of the longevity of the method the company was using to close the wells.

‘My concern is that there are 50 wells across the northern rivers that Metgasco have drilled and supposedly filled with cement but I’m worried that they will break down over time. Then who’s going to be left to clean up the mess?’

Mr Draper said he was not convinced the government buybacks in the northern rivers were sufficient to ensure the region remained gasfield free in perpetuity.

‘They bought back those licences but I’d like to see legislation brought in that would permanently ban in the northern rivers. Until that time we’re not permanently protected.’

The tank, standing upright, during Metgasco's decommissioning process in 2013. Photo Alan Roberts
Metgasco’s Corella well in 2013. Photo Alan Roberts

While admitting it was a state issue, he suggested the upcoming federal election campaign could be an opportunity to get action on such legislation.

‘Maybe Kevin Hogan and Janelle Saffin could help to bring it into being in the fed elect campaign,’ Mr Draper said.

‘Janelle helped to introduce federal legislation that placed a 2km limit from town on any drilling.’

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said the final decommissioning and capping at Corella had concluded yesterday.

‘Corella was finished in two days. The final well, Harrier, should be finished today,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘Whenever we drill any well we have an obligation to decommission the well and rehabilitate the site.

‘We have a bond with the government and can’t get that bond back until we decommission the well to their satisfaction and the landholder signs off.

‘When I came into this role I inherited 50 wells, most of which were decommissioned in the first two years.

‘These are the last two to be done. Work should finish today,’ Mr Henderson said.


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