Negotiations with Metgasco continue despite end of buyback

NEGOTIATIONS with Metgasco to buy back its Northern Rivers exploration licences are continuing despite the official buyback program ending, a government spokesperson says.

NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts yesterday announced the end of the buyback program, despite at least three controversial licences remaining in place on the Northern Rivers.

Among those is Petroleum Exploration Licence 445, which is in the Lismore electorate and which  the Government committed to buying back in the dying days of this year's election campaign.

In a written statement, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokeswoman Elly Bird said the government wasn't acting on their election promise.

"They need to clarify exactly what they're doing," Ms Bird said.

"The last thing we heard is they were going to halt the sale, so what's happening?

Ms Bird said it was about "peace of mind" for the gasfield free community.

"It was a very clear election promise that 445 would be dealt with, and as far as the public is concerned the deadline has passed."

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 were ongoing.

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

Mr George was unavailable for comment about the buyback scheme cancellation yesterday.

Mr Roberts said the State Government had used the program to buy back 16 Petroleum Exploration Licences at a cost of $212,500 each.



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