Communities in the Northern Rivers are celebrating Metgasco’s acceptance of the NSW government’s offer to buy back CSG licenses.
Under the agreement, NSW Government has offered a settlement of $25 million in return for the cancellation of three gas exploration licenses.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers coordinator Elly Bird is also jubilant at Metgasco’s proposal to withdraw pending exploration activities near Bentley.
“This is a day that people around our region have worked for and wanted for over three years. We’re over the moon that the Government and the company have finally seen the light and decided that the community’s rejection of unconventional gas could not be overcome,” she said.
Metgasco’s Board of Directors unanimously agreed to the offer, believing it to be in the company’s best interests.
Chairman Len Gill acknowledged the decision was difficult to make, saying it was “better to accept the settlement and move forward”.
“The company has invested heavily in the Clarence Moreton Basin for over ten years and has had significant success in demonstrating large gas resources.”
“While the identified gas resources could have a significant value if developed in an efficient and timely manner, the Board has to consider the risks associated with ongoing project approval delays, higher costs and difficulties funding activities over the next few years,” Gill said.
Landholder Ross Joseph, who lives within one of the licenses is grateful for the Government’s intervention, said: “We’re just so proud of our community for coming together to turn away unsafe and unwelcome industrialisation of our beautiful region.”
The proposal also includes Metgasco’s responsibility to decommission two remaining coal seam gas wells, and the NSW Government returning $400,000 currently held in securities to the company.
Metgasco has also agreed to withdraw its development application and legal action against the government.
Earlier this year, Metgasco took the NSW Government to court over the unlawful suspension of its license for a drilling program at Rosella.
Bird said the community had to continuously come together to fight coal seam gas.
“Of course it’s not over for our communities yet. There’s nothing to stop the government granting new licences to explore for gas in our region, and until there is protection in law for a gasfield free Northern Rivers, we will continue to work together to achieve that.”