Metgasco workers Sexton Porter (left) and Hamish Ramsay at one of the gas exploration company’s drilling sites near Casino.
Metgasco workers Sexton Porter (left) and Hamish Ramsay at one of the gas exploration company’s drilling sites near Casino. Jacklyn Wagner

Casino to power on with gas

THE final tick of approval has been given for a $50 million gas-fired power station 4km south-east of Casino.

The 30-megawatt Richmond Valley Power Station, to be built by Metgasco, will produce enough electricity to power 30,000 homes on the Northern Rivers. This will be distributed through Country Energy’s local grid.

Metgasco yesterday announced the NSW Department of Planning had given development approval.

Managing director David Johnson said the power station would deliver gas-fired electricity at ‘significantly lower carbon emissions than coal-fired electricity’.

“The Richmond Valley Power Station will allow Metgasco to generate our first gas sales and is a critical first step in moving from being an explorer to producer,” he said.

The project will create 50 jobs during construction and 10 full-time jobs in the operation of the power station. It will use about 2.3 petajoules of natural gas a year from the Casino gasfields.

Metgasco’s gas reserves would supply the power station for more than 150 years.

“The project’s lifespan is 15 years because that is the standard operating life of the equipment, but the life of the power station is well in excess of that,” Mr Johnson said.

The final investment decision is still subject to ‘commercial negotiations and board approval’.

Mr Johnson said they had not decided how to fund the $50 million needed to build the power station.

“Now that we have approval we can start to have meaningful discussions with the project financiers, and with those who would be involved in the development,” he said.

“We expect to make thefinal investment decision within a few months.”

Construction would start soon afterwards and take 12 to 15 months.

Casino Chamber of Commerce president Michael Greentree said the approval was ‘great news’.

“Anything that will bring business to town is good, and it will also boost our economy, housing and other development,” he said.

Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan agreed it was good news for the region.

“This is a positive step to start using the gas that’s been found,” he said.

Cr Sullivan said he was also pleased the project would provide clean power.

Mr Johnson said Metgasco was still planning to build a 140km pipeline from Casino to Ipswich. This would allow the company to supply gas to South-East Queensland and, possibly, to Japan and China.

After the announcement of the power station approval, Metgasco’s share price inc-reased by $0.02 to $0.385.



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