Barristers grill Metgasco chief on ‘1000 wells’ comment

METGASCO managing director Peter Henderson was grilled by the NSW Government's barristers in the Supreme Court yesterday over claims there could one day be 1000 wells on the Northern Rivers.

According to Gasfields Free Northern Rivers spokesman Dean Draper, who was in court in Sydney, the barristers used the "1000 wells" claim to argue the company should have consulted more widely with the community.

Mr Draper said the barristers played the recording of an interview with ABC North Coast, where Mr Henderson had mentioned the potential of 1000 wells.

"Then they brought out the transcript of that interview ... and then they showed that to him, and he read it," Mr Draper said.

"Their main point was that Metgasco hadn't effectively consulted ... because they were basing their consultation on just the Rosella well and just on the 11 landholders around the well."

"The Government argued because community concern was so widespread ... Metgasco needed to broaden their consultation with the community as a whole."

Mr Henderson told The Northern Star he had indicated the "1000 wells" figure was always a "hypothetical" and wouldn't be known until the company had finished its exploration program.

He said when he left the courtroom he was surrounded by television cameras with reporters asking whether he had invited Land and Water Commissioner Jock Laurie to the Northern Rivers for a community meeting just prior to the planned Bentley drilling. At the time, it was understood that the NSW Government and the Office of Coal Seam Gas had proactively arranged the meeting.

But Mr Henderson said there was no controversy at all over the company's relationship with Mr Laurie and the Office of Coal Seam Gas.

Last month's decision by the company to write-off to nil its exploration costs to date and downgrade its entire gas reserves shows how much the suspension of PEL16 has impacted on its viability. The hearing continues again today.



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