Sunday, 25 May 2014

Coal seam & tight gas miner Metgasco makes a fool of itself by crying 'We wuz hacked!'

Metgasco Limited has come under greater government scrutiny of late, resulting in media reports like this in the Echo NetDaily on 18 May 2014:

The enormous shit-storm that Nationals Party member Peter Graham ignited after signing his property over to gas mining in Bentley near Lismore continues to escalate….

Almost all of Mr Graham’s 40 immediate neighbours stormed out in disgust from a meeting with government departments on Tuesday (May 13) after they tried to convince the landowners that gas mining was safe.

It appeared the bureaucrats, who represented the Office of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) and NSW Land and Water, were unable to provide satisfactory answers by the residents. In fact, the residents appeared better informed and educated than the government reps themselves.

Held at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre, the invitation-only event was promoted as a workshop for concerned residents, focussing on ‘providing a better understanding around groundwater and well-integrity issues, fracture stimulation, and will provide an overview of existing benchmark northern rivers catchment water data.’…

The meeting began with NSW Land and Water commissioner, Jock Laurie, describing his job as, ‘going to rural areas, listening to their concerns and taking them back to the government’.

But the audience soon became angered as it became clear that they were going to be talked at, rather than listened to. Mutters of ‘We know that already’ soon turned to direct questioning of the presenters, who seemed unprepared for the farmers’ high level of education.

The cracks began to appear after Rachel Connell, director of the Office of CSG, admitted of approving Metgasco’s Bentley operation as ‘conventional gas exploration’, despite its own assessment that it was a tight sands project that carried greater environmental risks.

‘We are not responsible for how the company chooses to promote itself,’ she said. And temperatures rose further when she was grilled as to why her office continued to approve Metgasco operations despite the company having  been responsible for well blow-outs and contaminated-water spills. ‘We acknowledge that’s an issue,’ she replied….

As the meeting boiled over, Green Mountain premium beef producer David Scarrabelotti, stood up to say it was now time for the government to listen to the community.

A group statement declared, ‘We have done the research, we know the facts, we have seen Metgasco in action and we are resolute … we declare our absolute determination to stop them.’
Twenty minutes into the workshop it was all over, and only a few residents stayed on to rake over the ashes with the shaken delegation.

‘We insist that this clear message from our community is taken, by you, back to your minister and the premier of NSW,’ concluded the letters handed to Mr Laurie….

And in The Sydney Morning Herald on 15 May 2014:

Resources company Metgasco misled the public over its drilling operation in northern NSW by saying it was seeking a less controversial type of gas. It was for this reason the government suspended its licence on Thursday.
Statements such as those on Metgasco’s website that it was drilling for conventional gas were now considered by officials to be incorrect. The company was in fact exploring for “tight sands” gas, an unconventional gas extracted using the contentious fracking technique.
Resources Minister Anthony Roberts said Metgasco had not undertaken genuine community consultation and concerns had been raised “about the way in which Metgasco has characterised its activities”.
He later told ABC Radio that companies that failed to gain a "social licence" to operate were "probably better off going somewhere else"…..

With ABC News also reporting on 15 May 2014:

Petroleum company Metgasco has had its licence to drill for gas at Bentley in northern NSW suspended and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts has referred the project to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
ICAC has previously investigated links between resource companies and prominent NSW political figures, including disgraced former Labor MP Eddie Obeid.

Citing allegations over Metgasco's shareholdings and interests, Mr Roberts today said: "I referred this to the commissioner to ensure that any decisions made pertaining to Pell 16 have been made entirely properly, without any undue influence or interest. As this is a matter for the ICAC, I will not be making any further comment or statement on this."…

One of the tactics Metgasco appears to use when it receives this sort of media attention is to attempt to recast itself as a ‘victim’. Suddenly there is talk about bomb threats, menacing of its workers or theft of property.

When it donned the victim mantle in the Echo NetDaily on 23 May 2014 the company quickly became a laughing stock, because the problem was not those nasty people opposing its commercial interests but more likely a classic website glitch:

On Thursday (May 22) the ‘Community Consultative’ page on Metgasco’s website did some rounds on social media, primarily because the body of the document was written entirely in Latin.
A company spokesperson [said the] website had been hacked, while members of the Lock the Gate Alliance Facebook page who used the  website’s internal search engine to find the page, claimed that the page was indexed in the search results as being uploaded 13 February 2013.
The page was taken offline a few hours later and replaced with a splash page reading, ‘Access denied. You are not authorised to access this page’
Other commenters were convinced that it was what publishers refer to as Lorem Ipsum, place-holding text that is written in Latin and is still used occasionally to demonstrate how a publication will appear once it has been filled with actual information.
Certainly one would assume that had Metgasco been hacked then they would be able to simply and quickly retrieve the original webpage from a backup.
As such, this was taken by some as proof of Metgasco’s lack of genuine and effective community consultation….. on why web designers use Latin as placeholder text on web pages:

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum….
Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).
There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don't look even slightly believable.

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