BIG RIG: Ray O?Brien, drilling supervisor for the Metgasco project at Casino, where test drilling will go to 670 metres.
BIG RIG: Ray O?Brien, drilling supervisor for the Metgasco project at Casino, where test drilling will go to 670 metres.

Test drilling starts on gas project

By NERIDA BLOK

DAVID JOHNSON predicts fewer blackouts and reduced power bills for Casino residents if commercial flow rates of gas are found in coal seams being drilled on a South Casino property.

As test drilling began on the first of six holes two days ago, the managing director of Sydney-based firm, Metgasco, said it would take three to six months to determine if the project would be economically viable.

"We don't know if the gas will flow out of the coal seams at commercial rates," he said.

Mr Johnson said if the project was viable, then it could be possible for the gas to be used to generate Casino's power supply.

"Currently, power to the North Coast comes from the Hunter Valley, so by the time it comes up here it's bloody expensive," he said.

"If you compare the power bills here to Sydney they are substantially higher because of transport costs. And if you can establish some power generation within the area it adds to load stability, which will hopefully reduce the like- lihood of blackouts."

Aware of the community's environmental concerns, Mr Johnson said the footprint left by the project would be small.

"It will be a negligible. In six months' time you won't notice anything," he said.



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