Metgasco licence remains suspended

The site of a coal seam gas well at Dobies Bight, NSW. Photo Jerad Williams / The Northern Star
The site of a coal seam gas well at Dobies Bight, NSW. Photo Jerad Williams / The Northern Star Jerad Williams

UPDATE 4.20pm: METGASCO has said they had agreed to defer its legal action for judicial review to allow the OCSG time to complete its reconsideration of the suspension.

In a release this afternoon, the company has said they believe the original decision to suspend was unlawful, and made without valid justification and rejects the NSW Government's claim that the company had failed to conduct an appropriate community consultation program.

"Metgasco is very disappointed with the outcome of the Government's review," the statement read.  

"It (Metgasco) is reviewing the Government's decision and reasons for maintaining the suspension."  

"It will continue its legal action if it considers the errors in the original decision have not been addressed."

Managing Director of Metgasco, Peter Henderson, said the Government should be defending exploration and investment in what is a highly regulated and environmentally safe industry, particularly at a time when the general community is facing a crisis shortage in natural gas supplies.

"The Government should not allow itself to be intimidated by activists making spurious and ill-informed claims about drilling for natural gas when the state is running out of gas and regional areas are crying-out for investment", Mr Henderson said.


ORIGINAL 3.30pm: THE SUSPENSION of Metgasco's exploration licence PEL16 will remain in place, the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas has concluded in a review. 

Metgasco's case against the NSW Government in the Supreme Court now assumes critical importance for the company, with the Court due to decide on a hearing date tomorrow. The earliest the company is expected to be granted a hearing date is late July or August, if its appeal for the date to be brought forward is successful. 

NSW Resources Minister Anthony Roberts has just released a statement confirming the suspension. 

"The outcome of the review is that the decision to suspend the operations of Metgasco under the Activity Approval remains in place until the OCSG is satisfied that the company has met the conditions of its title and the conditions of the Activity Approval," Mr Roberts said.

"An Executive Summary of the reasons will be published by the OCSG on its website in due course at:"

"As this matter remains the subject of ongoing litigation, I will be making no further comment."

Member for Ballina Don Page has welcomed the decision by the Office of Coal Seam Gas to uphold the licence suspension over Metgasco's Bentley site.

"I strongly endorse the original suspension of the Government and I believe the Office of Coal Seam Gas is correct in maintaining the suspension," Mr Page said in a statement.

"Metgasco did not engage in proper community consultation and I believe did not properly characterise the nature of their exploration at the Bentley site."

Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan said: "I welcome the State Government's decision to uphold its suspension of Metgasco's operations at Bentley, and I congratulate them for listening to the concerns of our community.

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