Metgasco goes to Supreme Court to quash drilling order

The site of a coal seam gas well at Dobies Bight, NSW. Photo Jerad Williams / The Northern Star
The site of a coal seam gas well at Dobies Bight, NSW. Photo Jerad Williams / The Northern Star Jerad Williams

METGASCO has called on the NSW Supreme Court to quash an order to suspend drilling at Bentley on the grounds the State Government failed to notify the company of a decision which it claims was a reaction to concerns raised in the Northern Rivers community.

Documents tabled in a Sydney court yesterday morning claimed Resources Minister Anthony Roberts' decision was not lawful as Metgasco had not been given "reasonable opportunity" to respond to the proposed suspension.

The Petroleum Act requires that before exercising the power to suspend operations, the Minister must give written notice, outline the grounds of the proposal and give the holder of the title the chance to reply.

Metgasco says it was informed of the decision by way of a late night email, sent to the it's managing director from the Office of Coal Seam Gas.

It claims the only grounds relied on were that "fundamental concerns" had been expressed by members of the "impacted community" about the way in which Metgasco had characterised it's exploration activities and that those concerns were raised at a meeting at Lismore to which the company "was not invited, was discouraged from attending and at which no representative of the company was present".

"...In circumstances where the defendant relied on concerns said to have been expressed by members of the community to the exclusion of any representations from the plaintiff in response to those concerns in so far as they impacted on the compliance with condition 8, the decision lacks an evident intelligible justification," the claim reads

Metgasco says as a result of the failure to consult, it was denied procedural fairness and should be awarded costs.

Minister Roberts has maintained the exploration licence was suspended on the grounds the project had been mischaracterised "conventional gas operation".

The case will return to court next month.

Topics:  csg metgasco supreme court

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