Path clear for huge new gas field

 

FULL SPEED AHEAD

The way is now clear for the development of one of the largest known undeveloped natural gas fields in Queensland.

Brisbane-based State Gas scored a significant legal victory this week which has secured it full ownership of the Reid's Dome Gas Project in the Bowen Basin.

The company had been in dispute for nearly a year with UK-based Dome Petroleum Resources, which had refused to sell its remaining 20 per cent stake in the project despite falling below a 25 per cent threshold that allowed for compulsory acquisition by State Gas, the majority owner.

State Gas director Greg Baynton told City Beat yesterday that he and his troops were relieved, but not surprised, by the Supreme Court ruling in their favour.

 

"We were confident in our position,'' Baynton said. "It's been about 10 months that we've been distracted on this matter and we can now get on with the real business of progressing the project and getting gas to the east coast market.''

State Gas owned 60 per cent of the project when it floated in late 2017. Dome had long-owned the balance but, about a year later, offloaded half of its 40 per cent stake to State Gas.

When State Gas moved to acquire the final piece of the puzzle late last year, Dome refused and was then sued in February to force the matter.

In a bizarre approach to the case, Dome sacked two of its legal teams and then retained one of its own directors, retired English solicitor John Owen, to represent them.

Dome then repeatedly failed to secure a summary dismissal of the case and, when no one representing the company appeared in court for the start of the trial this week, State Gas won the battle. Dome's counterclaim was also dismissed.

WELL-FOUNDED FEARS

Baynton said his firm had already spent about $6 million on developing the project, about 50km outside of Rolleston, and it will have to fork out $233,333 to secure that final 20 per cent stake.

But that money, held in trust by the court, will be refunded if Dome fails to cough up State Gas's legal costs of about $550,000.

And there are well-founded concerns that Dome might not pay those legal costs, as ordered by the court. After all, Dome's majority owner and former managing director, Adrian Eyre, is currently serving a 7½-year prison term in the UK for masterminding a $A12 million renewable energy investment scam that defrauded 340 victims.

Work has started on a pipeline that will supply natural gas from Project Atlas in southwest Queensland to domestic customers
Work has started on a pipeline that will supply natural gas from Project Atlas in southwest Queensland to domestic customers

Regardless, Baynton hopes to be supplying the first gas to the market by 2021 and his firm will be drilling again on site this month for the first time since November.

Having recently completed a $4.9 million capital raising, State Gas remains in cash burn mode but aims to become profitable once the gas starts flowing.

In a remarkable coincidence, Baynton learned recently that bushman Adam Wakenshaw, who discovered the distinctive geological formation of Reid's Dome in the 1930s, lived next door to his family in Rockhampton in the 1960s and early 1970s. What are the odds?

NO PARTYING

Brisbane jobs queen Sarina Russo quietly celebrated her 40th year in business yesterday without any of the extravagant partying we might have expected.

As a self-described "desperate fired legal secretary'' with just $2600 to her name, she started a typing school with only 10 students.

Sarina Russo
Sarina Russo

Today her employment group is one of the biggest in the nation and continues to assist thousands of job seekers.

Once again this year she'll be delivering the valedictory speech to James Cook University students in Brisbane on Friday.

UBER SHIFT

There's some good news for Uber users in Brisbane.

The ride-sharing giant introduced "upfront pricing'' yesterday so clients will know the exact fare they are paying.

Previously, the company only provided an estimate.

Would the appearance of Ola, Didi and other competitors have anything to do with the shift?



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