Natural gas explorer Metgasco provided an update on its Supreme Court action to declare invalid the NSW Government’s suspension of its approval to drill the Rosella exploration well.
On 28 July, Metgasco lodged its evidence in support of its claim, on the schedule set by the Court.
The NSW Government was required to lodge its supporting evidence by 8 August but failed to do so by the set date, claiming unavailability of key personnel. Late on 12 August, it responded, saying that it had decided not to present evidence, Metgasco said in a statement.
Commenting on the NSW Government’s delay and decision, Metgasco Managing Director and CEO, Peter Henderson, said: “We are surprised by the NSW Government’s decision not to submit evidence. It is especially disappointing given the Government’s claim a few weeks ago that our request for it to produce documents was ‘premature’. The information we were seeking as part of our request to produce documents has not been provided, which is inconsistent with the Government’s ‘premature’ claim. As a result, Metgasco will explore a range of other options to have the documents produced.”
“The NSW Government’s suspension of Metgasco’s drilling approval did significant damage to Metgasco and undermined investment confidence in the resource and infrastructure industries in NSW. The decision not to submit any witness statements justifying the suspension makes it impossible for the decision-makers to be cross-examined. It is important in these circumstances that the suspension decision be properly justified by Government and scrutinised by the Courts. By resisting the production of documentary evidence, Government decision-making lacks transparency and further undermines investor confidence,” added Henderson.
Metgasco has been advised that the hearing of the court case is now more likely to be in December rather than October, due to the availability of judges. Final dates are yet to be advised. Metgasco continues to request an expedited hearing. The dates for submission of the remaining court documents might be modified to reflect the delay, so that all court preparation is complete by mid-October, not end August.
“Metgasco has invested approximately $120 million over the past ten years exploring for natural gas in NSW and has identified the second largest gas resource in the State. It wishes to work cooperatively with the Government to resolve the current dispute as quickly as possible and return to exploring and ultimately producing natural gas for NSW consumers and industrial users,” said Henderson.
Press Release, August 15, 2014; Image: Metgasco