Metgasco Limited (ASX: MEL) today welcomed the decision by the New South Wales Supreme Court to reinstate its right to drill the Rosella E01 well.
Managing Director Peter Henderson said this was a landmark decision for the resources industry in New South Wales and could have implications for broader industry in the state.
“Had we lost, future investors in NSW would have had to consider the real threat of sovereign risk and NSW’s image would have been tarnished.”
Justice Button’s ruling gave strong support to Metgasco’s position. He found that:
- the decision was unlawful;
- the Office of Coal Seam Gas did not observe proper procedural fairness; and
- the Office of Coal Seam Gas had confused consultation with persuasion.
To note some of the judge’s comments:
- the decision by the Minister to suspend our right to drill “came as a bolt from the blue” for Metgasco;
- the decisions “have undoubtedly damaged Metgasco substantially, as well as exposing it to criminal sanction”;
- the Office of Coal Seam Gas’ approach “smacks of a process of ‘bootstrapping’ that is conceptually unattractive”;
- “effective consultation to my mind focuses on the quality of the process of consultation, rather than on any outcome whereby the persons who are the focus of the consultation are persuaded by it.”;
- the Office of Coal Seam Gas “focused unlawfully on the results of the consultation, rather than its inherent characteristics”.
Justice Button awarded costs to Metgasco.
Metgasco Managing Director, Peter Henderson said: “We believe that our decision to pursue legal action has been vindicated. We will be seeking compensation for the damage that has been inflicted on Metgasco and its 5,000 shareholders by the NSW Government’s unlawful decision.”
He said that the company was very keen to develop a gas business in NSW and hopes to be able to work co-operatively with the Government to achieve this outcome.
“Before recommencing drilling activities in the Northern Rivers region, we would appreciate the opportunity to talk to Government”, Mr Henderson said.
Peter J Henderson, Managing Director & CEO
Sean Hooper, Chief Financial Officer
Phone: +61 02 9923 9100
Helen McCombie, Citadel
(02) 9290 3073 or 0411 756248