Metgasco claims inquiry findings green-washed 'nonsense'

Metgasco managing director Peter Henderson
Metgasco managing director Peter Henderson Cathy Adams

METGASCO managing director Peter Henderson has dismissed the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into New South Wales' gas supply as green-washed "nonsense".

A select committee found increased mining would not bring down gas costs, instead recommending the establishment of a nationwide gas reservation policy to buffer Australia from high international prices.

"Everything that came out in the report was what we expected. It is essentially a political stunt just before the State Election," Mr Henderson said.

"The front people in the inquiry want to solve the NSW gas problem by forcing other states to reserve gas for NSW.

"I think that's very cute, but if you were other states, why would you do it?

"It's clear a gas shortage is imminent and prices are going up. No one is arguing about that at all."

NSW currently sources 95% of its gas from interstate, although three CSG companies, including Metgasco, have exploration licences in the Northern Rivers.

Metgasco has legal action pending against the NSW Government over the cancellation of its drilling licence in Bentley last year.

Mr Henderson said the company would not back down.

"We're still keen to explore but we're in a situation where the rules keep changing," he said.

"The NSW Gas Plan still has to be put in place - the third plan in four years - and we're waiting for our court case against the government.

"We believe they broke the law by suspending our exploration licence."



Four export facilities worth a combined $75 billion are under construction in Queensland to cash-in sell to the Asian market, where consumers pay up to five times as much for gas as they do in Australia.

The gas inquiry found no mining licences should be granted until all of the recommendations made by the NSW Chief Scientist last year were implemented, including suggestions on improving safety, landholder engagement and compensation and environmental assurances.

"What absolute nonsense. You don't have to wait before every recommendation is put in place before the industry can proceed," Mr Henderson said.

"If you do a review of the automotive industry, you might decide to design cars better, put in better speed signs and more police on the roads.

"But you don't tell everyone to stop driving cars until that's been done.

"Other countries are very successful without having reservation policies. The market is quite capable of sorting things out.

"The United States did not have a reservation policy, but its gas prices have gone from $12 to $2-$3 because companies were allowed to explore and regulations were sensible."

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, who was the deputy chairman of the inquiry, said the findings acknowledged a lack of foresight in failing to develop a gas reservation policy before initial export approvals were made.

"Government policy should focus on transitioning our energy system away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy," he said.

"This should include programs to assist households and business to shift away from gas."


Topics:  csg metgasco mining

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