More trouble on horizon for Metgasco

UPDATE 1.15pm: WITH Metgasco shares falling by 21% over the past two days and trading at around 7c late yesterday, investors may well be wondering where to next for the stock.

On March 14 last year the share price was sitting at 39c, which was down from their all-time high of $1.51 in June 2008.

Jason McFadden from Ballina-based JPM Financial Planning said that over the past 12 months the company's value had fallen by 73%.

He said Metgasco stock was a high-risk proposition with it having only three major projects.

"I would say that if you are holding stock in the company today then you may have missed the boat," he said.

"Most stock brokers are currently recommending selling shares and there are a significant number of sellers in the market and not many buyers."

David Lennox, Resource Analyst at Fat Prophets said Metgasco may also face further problems at the end of the year.

"If the CSG mining conditions stay as they are the company may have to look at a write-down of assets when it reports on December 31st," he said.

"They may even have to look at putting through an impairment charge on their CSG assets on the balance sheet and that in turn may trigger a number of debt covenants if they have them."

File photo of police escorting a truck from the Doubtful Creek site.
File photo of police escorting a truck from the Doubtful Creek site. Patrick Gorbunovs

11.30am: ABOUT 35 police have arrived at the Doubtful Creek protest site to clear the road ahead of an expected drill rig departure later today.

Three protesters have since locked themselves on to a painted Ford Falcon dubbed the "simmotron" in front parked in front of the access road to the drill site

Police Rescue officers have since started working to extract the protesters from the car around 8.30am.

Knights Rd has been closed at both ends for a distance of 2km.

Police have also trucked in around 6 loads of gravel and roadbase, and have knocked down a fence into the State Forest to create an alternative access road to the drill site.

At least 35 protesters have gathered at the site, and numbers are apparently building slowly from those walking past the road blocks.

"It's a very calm celebratory feeling… both the police and us," protester Daniel John-Peterson said.

Mr John-Peterson said he was hoping to gather people to participate in a "community observational convoy" this afternoon.

"It's strictly observing the drill rig and associated trucks and following them from behind to see that they leave the Northern Rivers."

WE’VE DONE IT: Protesters celebrate at Doubtful Creek site after Metgasco announced suspension of CSG operations.
WE’VE DONE IT: Protesters celebrate at Doubtful Creek site after Metgasco announced suspension of CSG operations. Cathy Adams

10.30am: COAL seam gas opponents across the Northern Rivers were celebrating a win yesterday after Metgasco unexpectedly announced it was suspending its exploration program.

At the Doubtful Creek protest site, now into its 50th day, long-time CSG opponent and local Angela Froud shed tears of joy.

"Walking around the site today people are beaming ... we are now CSG-free in the Northern Rivers for the first time," Ms Froud declared.

Lock the Gate regional co-ordinator Ian Gaillard said he believed community opposition had played a key role in the suspension and sounded a warning to neighbouring gas explorers such as Red Sky and Dart Energy.

"I would say there will be more gasfield-free communities declared all over the Northern Rivers and people will continue to oppose this industry," Mr Gaillard said.

A celebration was held last night at the Lismore Workers Club, which yesterday morning had changed its sign to read: "CSG free Northern Rivers - Sanity at last!"

Knitting Nanna Against Gas Louise Somerville said the feeling in Lismore was ecstatic.

"We're elated... I just went down town and you can tell the people who have been involved from the huge smiles on their faces. It's a wonderful feeling," Ms Somerville said.

"A suspension isn't a complete stop, and even though Metgasco appear to be on the way out, what concerns us is who might be waiting in the wings."

"We will be watching very carefully and have our needles at the ready."

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the announcement was a welcome surprise.

"I'm very pleased... when I recall the messages I heard from Brad Hazzard that CSG was going to happen 'no matter what'," Cr Dowell said.

"Now we can concentrate on the things we're good at such as tourism, clean green agriculture and looking after our environment. Those are more important."

Page MP Janelle Saffin said it was a great result for "people power", and called on the State Government to declare an exclusion zone on the Northern Rivers.

"That will give certainty to the community that it won't have CSG mining and will fully protect our water, our farmland, our agriculture, our environment and our tourism."



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