Greens running gas fear campaign

ENERGY company Metgasco has slammed the NSW Greens, accusing the party of creating a “fear campaign around gas” ahead of the NSW election.

The comments followed confirmation by the company that bubbling from a drill well at Dryaaba, north-west of Casino, was “probably caused by fugitive emissions” of methane.

This new leak comes on the back of confirmed reports last week that methane has escaped from one of the company’s wells near Bentley and from another near Casino.

Lynda Brooks lives near the Metgasco well at Dryaaba and said she had seen bubbles escaping from the coal seam gas well there.

Ms Brooks said the well head was corroded and, noting the well was under floodwater in January, was concerned about the potential environmental impact of run-off from holding ponds at the site

“The amount of corrosion was a shock to me.

"The bubbling could be air, but I don’t know,” she said.

Ms Brooks has taken her concerns to Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and State Lismore MP Thomas George, as well as to Richmond Valley Council.

“I have heard a lot of rhetoric about ‘monitoring’ and ‘self regulation’, but I have no confidence that anybody is doing anything to monitor the situation here in practice,” Ms Brooks said.

“Who is actually accountable for this?”

Metgasco’s chief financial officer, Glenda McLoughlin, said the well at Dryaaba, which was called Bowerbird1, was drilled in September last year to take rock samples, but that gas had not been extracted from the site and it had not been hydraulically fractured.

She said the well was designed to withstand floodwaters.

“Leakages undermine Metgasco’s claims that coal seam gas is a clean energy source,” Greens candidate for Lismore Sue Stock said in response to the leak at Dryaaba.

“We need to have more regular inspections of all drill sites by the regulators and some clearer answers from Metgasco.”

Ms McLoughlin said the amount of methane that had escaped the sites was insignificant.

It was equivalent to 20% of the emissions of one cow in one day.

“To create a fear campaign around the gas industry is mischievous on the part of the Greens,” she said.

“We are part of the solution, not the problem.”

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