Chief operations officer Michael O’Brien and managing director and chief executive officer Peter Henderson of METGASCO.
Chief operations officer Michael O’Brien and managing director and chief executive officer Peter Henderson of METGASCO. Jay Cronan

Plenty in pipeline for Metgasco CEO

CASINO-based gas company Metgasco is moving from the exploratory to commercialisation phase with the appointment of its new chief executive and managing director Peter Henderson.

However, in his first interview since taking up the post, Mr Henderson said it could be years before the company turned a profit and began paying its investors a dividend.

His appointment comes at a challenging time for the company as it prepares to construct the Richmond Valley Power Station, build the Lions Way gas pipeline to Queensland, formulates export opportunities in Asia, while also facing a community backlash over coal-seam gas mining.

“I am very excited to be joining the young dynamic company and helping it to develop its commercial potential,” Mr Henderson said.

“My background is taking work from this (discovery) stage and achieving value to get sales in place, to drill more wells to bring it into production. That’s what I like doing. Our goal over the next few years is to get to a stage where we have enough revenue coming in to manage our base costs. The real profitability starts once we get (power) generation in place and bigger sales in NSW.”

Mr Henderson comes with a wealth of experience from more than 30 years in the oil and gas sector.

A graduate of Melbourne University, he was the development manager for Premier Oil, managing major offshore developments in Indonesia and Vietnam before taking over the reigns at Metgasco.

Prior to this he was chief operating officer for Anzon Energy, which devel- oped a floating production system in Victoria’s Bass Strait – in record time and under budget.

“In the first five or six years of the company’s existence we have focused on establishing the resource,” Mr Henderson said. “Now the focus is going to be more towards realising that value and getting some benefit from it.”

He listed the company’s top priorities over the next couple of years as getting gas sales to local customers in the Richmond Valley and building a $50 million power plant fuelled by coal seam gas in the Richmond Valley.

“LPG is a pretty expensive source of fuel here, so (the two projects) will make local businesses more competitive and help them grow and add jobs,” Mr Henderson said.

As both projects will also use a small portion of the company’s gas reserves, Mr Henderson said Metgasco was also keen to devel op the Lions Way pipeline to send its gas to the Queensland market.

He said while more work was needed to “push it along”, the company had already started the environmental approval process.

“That gas can effectively be substituted into the Brisbane market, or because it is tying into the (Queensland) grid, effectively that gas can be used as a feedstock to other LNG facilities,” he said.

With a market capitalisation of only $180 million, Mr Henderson said the pipeline would be “an extraordinary investment for us and we would be looking to bring in a partner”.

The company also announced in October that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Norway-based FLEX LNG to evaluate the feasibility of a floating production platform to export part of its gas to Asia.

Mr Henderson said that study was progressing well.

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