Gas future appears bright

Metgasco plant in Casino.
Metgasco plant in Casino. Jacklyn Wagner

THE importance of Casino’s gasreserves has been confirmed after the largest audit of Australia’s energyresources was released this week.

The Australian Energy Resource Assessment, which was prepared by two Federal Government agencies, has predicted that gas will outstrip coal as an energy provider by 2030.

This is a complete reversal of how energy is currently used and adds further weight to the possibility that the gas-rich Casino and Woodenbong regions will become major manufacturer bases.

While coal provided nearly 40 per cent of energy use in 2007-08, this will drop to less than 23 per cent by 2029-30.

Gas supplied 21pc of domestic energy in 2007-08. However this figure will jump to more than 33pc by 2029-30, according to the assessment.

This means gas consumption will rise from approximately one trillion cubic feet now, to two trillion cubic feet in twenty years.

The changing energy mix will be the result of Government attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions via its renewable energy target, and legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, assuming the latter is eventually passed by Parliament.

Coal – used mostly for generating electricity – produces more carbon dioxide emissions compared with gas-fired electricity.

The Government wants to introduce an emissions trading scheme that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5pc.

The changing energy mix is particularly good news for Casino which is sitting on one of the largest natural gas reserves in New South Wales.

The Northern Star reported last December that Sydney-based company Metgasco had discovered both conventional and coal seam gas at its Kingfisher site near Casino.

The site has the potential to power 30,000 homes for more than 650 years, the equivalent of supplying energy to homes in the Lismore, Casino and Kyogle areas.

Last December Queensland company Arrow Energy also reported good results after a preliminary exploration of a gas reserve near Woodenbong.

The release of the week’s energy assessment provides further evidence of the need to develop the large gas reserves on the Northern Rivers as part of Australia’s future energy supply.

Metgasco has submitted a development application to the State Government for a gas-fired power station at its Casino site.

While managing director David Johnson would not be drawn on when the site would be fully operational, he said that, if approved, the development would benefit the Northern Rivers.

“The most significant impact will be if we can demonstrate we can extract gas and generate profits,” he said.

He said a profitable gas development near Casino would increase the chances other projects would also be viable in the area.

He pointed to industries such as transport, which would benefit from having an alternative and competitive fuel source nearby.

Lismore MP Thomas George said the State Government needed to work with Metgasco to get its development working as soon as possible..

“Let’s not worry about 2030, let’s worry about getting things off the ground now,” he said.

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