Clarence MP Flags Police Protection for Metgasco

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The Nationals MP for Clarence is hoping the gas company Metgasco will re-think its controversial coal seam gas plans for his electorate.

Chris Gulaptis said he is hugely disappointed the State Government has decided not to appeal against a Supreme Court decision to overturn the suspension of Metgasco’s Bentley drilling operation.

He said he understands such an appeal would be expensive and might not win, but it’s still disappointing.

“I think both parties need to come to the negotiating table and start discussing their options,” he said.

“Because clearly you can’t have an industry that relies on a police force for protection and security whilst they’re undertaking their operation on the Northern Rivers.

“I’m not aware of any industry or any business that operates that way in this country, nor should we start to think that that’s the norm.”

The Metgasco Managing Director Peter Henderson said it would take a massive payout for the company to walk away from the Northern Rivers.

The company is hoping to negotiate a NSW Government compensation deal for damage it suffered during the 11 month suspension of its Bentley drilling license.

Mr Henderson said suggestions Metgasco will now sell up and move on for $80 million are speculative.

“There are some people who could argue that the gas we’ve had certified is worth a whole lot more than that,” he said.

“We’ve spent $120 million and many people would argue that if the government didn’t want us to continue exploring, particularly after we’ve done the right thing year after year, then $120 million is the right figure.

“The $80 million figure is the capitalised amount that we wrote off our books last year.”

Mr Henderson said police protection will be required if gas exploration resumes in the Northern Rivers.

“We would still like damages from the government,” he said.

“We suffered large financial losses as a consequence of their suspension decision.

“We would like that.
“We would also like a very strong, positive statement from the government supporting the industry.

“We know we will need police support to cross the picket lines and get our drilling equipment on site when we start drilling again.”

Source: ABC News

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