Metgasco warns Labor of “rash decisions taken in the heat of an election campaign
Metgasco warns Labor of “rash decisions taken in the heat of an election campaign". DEAN LEWINS

CSG miner slams Labor's suspension plan

METGASCO has slammed New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley's comments about indefinitely suspending coal seam gas activity on the North Coast without compensating miners.

Managing director Peter Henderson said the Opposition's plan would scare off possible investors from the state. He said Metgasco had spent $120 million "in good faith" to secure CSG exploration rights in the Northern Rivers.

"The Labor policy increases the growing perception that NSW has serious sovereign risk," he said.

"This can only discourage companies from investing in NSW, and not just in resources, as they know that commitments from government can be overturned at a whim, for political opportunism. Companies will take their funds and skills and go elsewhere.

"Investment requires government that - above all else - can be trusted."

Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts yesterday announced two more licences had been cancelled in the Northern Rivers, after energy company AGL agreed to a voluntary government buy-back of exploration rights.

Metgasco is less keen to sell its licences, deeming its Northern Rivers projects viable despite a number of government backflips.

Mr Henderson said governments had the right to change their minds, but should respect the rights of companies and the earlier representations made by government on which companies had relied.

"Rash decisions taken in the heat of an election campaign will have significant long-term consequences for the citizens of NSW as energy prices are driven up by a shortage of gas and confidence to invest is eroded," he said.

"Opportunities have been lost or deferred over the last four years, with a government that has routinely penalised the industry with arbitrary and inconsistent regulations, stop-go-stop policies and unacceptably long and cumbersome approval processes."

Metgasco has legal action pending against the NSW Government over the cancellation of its drilling licence in Bentley last year.