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CSG buy-back program ends with local licences still in place

A STATE Government program aimed at buying back coal seam gas exploration licences around NSW has wound up with at least three controversial licences still in place on the Northern Rivers.

NSW Industry, Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts announced the scheme closed, saying it had bought back 16 Petroleum Exploration Licences at a cost of $212,500 each.

However, PEL 445, which the Government committed to buying back in the dying days of this year's election campaign, and Metgasco's two licences around Casino, including Bentley, remain in place.

"The 16 PELs the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government bought-back and cancelled covered 4.5 million hectares of NSW," Mr Roberts said.

"Under the NSW Gas Plan we have reduced the footprint of coal seam gas titles and applications from more than 60 per cent of the state to just 8.5 per cent."

Asked if the State Government remained committed to the buyback of PEL 445, a spokesman referred the Northern Star to the last paragraph of Mr Roberts' statement, which reads: "Further PEL buy-backs from titleholders may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis."

The spokesman said negotiations with Metgasco about the buyback of PEL 445 were ongoing.

"There are still negotiations going on with Metgasco that commenced during the buyback scheme," the spokesman said.

"Those negotiations aren't effected by the closure of the scheme."

Lismore MP Thomas George has previously conceded negotiating the buyback of PEL 445 could take years.

Mr George was unavailable for comment today.



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