Indigenous elders condemn Northern Rivers gas exploration

Aboriginal elders on the New South Wales north coast have met to make their objection to the gas industry clear.

Githabul elder, Kevin Boota
Indigenous elder Kevin Boota says Githabul native title corporation statements supporting the gas industry went against the feelings of the majority of elders from tribes around the NSW north coast.

(Image: ABC Local, Margaret Burin)

Margaret Burin ABC North Coast NSW a April 2014

Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation announced in February that they would partner in a joint gas exploration venture at Bentley.

Its chairman stated that the Githabul people are "happy to share gas resources" with people in NSW "in the spirit of reconciliation".

Githabul elder Kevin Boota says the people speaking on behalf of the native title corporation were not representative of most elders.

"We've called elders to a meeting to make clear to Metgasco that their statements were fraudulent," he says.

"They've taken a selective few from our community; it's not the full standing of the tribal systems in the country, they don't even come close to representing the five clans of this country."

More than half a dozen elders met on Monday - representing tribes stretching from the Clarence Valley to southern Queensland - to voice their concerns about drilling and fracking for gas on traditional lands.

Mr Boota says the Githabul and Ngarakwal elders were in consensus about their opposition to the gas industry.

"We're fighting this politics with the mining industry; we're fighting the governments who are trying to usurp us of our rights.

"This is basically a genocide of who we are as a people, it's a disrespect of our spiritual and cultural beliefs, to our connection to this country.

"If gas gets into these waterways it jeopardises our culture and our handing down of our traditional foods."

Mr Boota says Githabul elders are now considering legal action.

Welcome to Country (as opposed to Welcome to a Gasfield)

Invasive Gas mining in the Northern Rivers

Source: Gasfield Free Northern Rivers movement

Enlarge image

Petroleum Licences for Far North Coast of NSW

There are currently three companies- Metgasco Limited, Dart Energy and Clarence Moreton Resources- with petroleum exploration licenses (PEL’s) in the Northern Rivers region (click on map at right to expand). There are also several Petroleum Exploration Licence Applications (PELA’s) and two Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority Applications (PSPA’s) currently before government. In September 2012 Metgasco Ltd was also granted government approval for a 30-45 well production gas field just outside the town of Casino. Up until early 2013 these companies were actively exploring for coal seam gas in the region, but at that time Metgasco and Dart suspended their operations indefinitely.

Gas Companies


Since 2008 Metgasco has been actively exploring for unconventional gas (coal seam gas and tight sands gas) in the Northern Rivers. Metgasco has a 100% interest in PEL’s 16, 13 (Casino area) and 426 (Grafton area). In that time they have drilled around fifty exploration wells and constructed a number of large holding ponds for storing waste water from their drilling and pilot production program.

IMG_2216In 2012 Metgasco was found to be illegally dumping water from their drilling program into the Casino sewerage treatment plant and was also fined by the state government regulator for breaches of their exploration licenses. After a two year period in which they did little work in their license areas, they commenced a core-hole drilling program in late 2012. This program met with massive resistance from local communities in the Grafton and Kyogle areas and the company had to abandon plans for a third core-hole. In a surprise move, on 13th March 2013 Metgasco announced suspension of all their activities in the Clarence Moreton Basin. As part of this suspension they are currently decommissioning 19 of the remaining 21 active wells in their license area.

Metgasco also has several current exploration license applications as follows:
PELA 129 42 klm east of Drake.
PELA 130 51 klm south west of Lismore.
PPLA 9 22 klm west south west of Lismore

(Image: Gas Field Free Northern Rivers)

Dart Energy

drill-rig-showing-nearby-houses1-300x225In early 2013 Dart Energy announced that it had aqcuired PEL 445, which covers an area of approx. 7,100 sq. km of the Northern Rivers region. This Clarence Moreton Basin license was formerly held by Arrow Energy, a 50/50 joint venture between Shell and Petro China. During their tenure Arrow drilled 15 wells across the region including: Woodenbong, Bonalbo, Kyogle, Keerrong, Bex Hill, and Coraki. The drilling of an exploration well in the Keerrong Valley by Arrow in early 2010 precipitated the birth of the anti-CSG movement in the region when a number of local residents became active raising awareness about the threats of coal seam gas.

In addition to its Australian operations, Dart Energy also has unconventional gas operations in the United Kingdom and China. On 2nd April 2013, prior to undertaking any exploration activities in the Northern Rivers, Dart Energy announced the suspension of their field operations in New South Wales for an indefinite period.

Clarence Moreton Resources (CMR) Group

The CMR Group holds licenses in the region between Casino and Grafton- PEL’s 457, 478 and 479. In a farm in arrangement with exploration company Red Sky Energy, drilling was undertaken at a number of sites. In in late April 2012 Red Sky Energy was granted government approval for the development of a pilot production well at the Talma site 2012. This pilot aims to investigate the gas resource within the low permeability Kangaroo Creek Sandstone gas resource (tight sands gas). Company documents state that once drilling is completed, a wellhead and flare will be installed and the well put into production for a number of months to test gas flow and certify gas reserves.

In 2012 CMR and Red Sky formed a new tripartite agreement with ERM Gas, a fully-owned subsidiary of ERM Power, a company with extensive gas interests in Western Australia. It was announced that ERM would become the operative (active) partner with responsibility for drilling any new wells in the CRM tenements. ERM is yet to announce a date for commencement of drilling.

(Image: Gas Field Free Northern Rivers)

Other companies that have applied for petroleum exploration permits are:

Clarence Moreton Resources P/L
PEL 457 23 klm west north west of Yamba
PEL 478 21 klm north west of Grafton
PEL 479 21 klm south west of Lismore

PSPAPP 46 25 klm south of Lismore
PSPAPP 47 51 klm south west of Lismore
PSPAPP 48 41 klm south west of Lismore
PSPAPP 49 42 klm east of Drake

Summerland Way Energy.
PELA 135 application relating to a 240 square kilometre area 34 km east south east of Drake.