Community stops Australia’s NSW Northern Rivers CBM/CSG exploration & extraction; Metgasco shareholders reluctantly accepted $25 million settlement from govt to buy back licence

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Metgasco accepts $25m compensation to end CSG at Bentley in NSW Northern Rivers by Anne Davies, December 16, 2015, www.smh.com.au

Coal seam gas exploration and extraction will cease in NSW’s Northern Rivers district after shareholders of Metgasco reluctantly accepted a $25 million settlement from the NSW government to buy back the licence.

Shareholders voted three to two in favour of accepting the buyback of the licence.

The project at Bentley had been the subject of a community campaign of blockades and sparked a backlash against the Nationals, who lost the seat of Ballina in March and nearly lost two others.

Metgasco shareholders accepted the government’s offer of $25 million in compensation after a feisty annual general meeting in which investors accused the company board of caving in to protesters.

“This is a very disappointing day for all of us who believed in an oil and gas exploration in the Northern Rivers,” said Metgasco chairman Len Gill.

“We are not defenders of the NSW government and its actions. But it is also our job as board members to negotiate robustly and put the best option to shareholders,” he said.

He urged shareholders to accept the offer so the company could move on and find other opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

But angry shareholders accused the board of caving in to the government. “We are giving away potentially billions of dollars of gas in the ground, proven gas, and the government could grant new licences in the future,” one shareholder, Dr Sam Prince, said.

Shareholders also raised the issue of sovereign risk when investing in NSW. “Is the reason we are doing this because the NSW government has said it will make it so difficult for us to do business?” another asked. “We should not succumb to this pressure when it is coercion and unfair,” he said. [How fair is it for a farmer to lose the farm’s water supply to CBM with no assistance from company or government, and be ruthlessly bullied to the point of suicide?  How fair is it to lose a loved one to such suicide? How fair is it to watch your children be poisoned inside their homes and schools? How fair is it to be left with toxic water or no water? etc etc etc]

Local green groups and farmers argued the Bentley project was incompatible with the region’s rural industries and environmental values.

Just before the election the government cancelled the drilling licence, but Metgasco successfully challenged the decision on the grounds the government had acted unfairly.

The government has since been in negotiations and proposed to pay the company $25 million to head off court action over the illegal cancellation.

The board decided to recommend acceptance of the offer last month.

Metgasco has spent $120 million on its north coast gas licences over the past decade, of which about $80 million has been capitalised. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Brief review of threats to Canada’s groundwater from the oil and gas industry’s methane migration and hydraulic fracturing by Ernst Environmental Services (EES), June 16, 2013

18. The development of coalbed methane (CBM) and other unconventional deposits of natural gas and oil requires extensive hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing consists of injecting diesel fuel, water, foams, silica, nitrogen and undisclosed mixes of chemicals into coal and other formations to force the tight gas or oil to release. Some fracturing chemicals that pose a threat to human health include benzene, phenanthrenes and florenes, naphthalene, 1-methylnaphthalene, 2-methylnaphthalene, aromatics, ethylene glycol and methanol.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about 40 percent of every fracturing treatment remains in the ground where it poses a threat to groundwater; CBM requires five to ten times more fracturing than conventional natural gas wells.

The ERCB Hydraulic Fracturing Directive released on May 21, 2013 has a section titled: “Special Provisions for Coalbed Methane Fracturing.”

Watch: The People vs CSG: the birth of CSG Free Communities 5:03 Min. by CSGFree NorthernRivers, April 24, 2012

“The power actually lies within the community.”

“What we’ve done is launched possibly Australia’s first self-declared coal seam gas free community”

2012 04 24 CSG CBM Free Northern Rivers snap

Click image to watch, 5:03 Min.

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