Feud flares up over Qld gas field
A BATTLE has broken out over the ownership of what could be one of Queensland's biggest and most promising natural gas fields.
In one corner we've got Brisbane-based State Gas, a new player in the game which floated in October last year after raising $5.25 million. It's chaired by serial company director Tony Bellas and run by his long-time associate Greg Baynton.
Over in the opposing corner, there's UK-based Dome Petroleum Group, which is still majority-owned by a bloke now behind bars for running a renewable energy scam. More on that below!
State announced last week that it was taking full ownership of the Reid's Dome Gas Project, bumping up its control from 80 per cent to 100 per cent by acquiring the last remaining stake held by Dome Petroleum.
But Dome Petroleum maintains it still has a 20 per cent holding after it already offloaded another 20 per cent of the project to State last month.
State returned fire yesterday, saying provisions of the joint operating agreement allow it to seize control since Dome Petroleum's interest had fallen below 25 per cent.
The company's lawyers have fired off a letter to Dome Petroleum to say their move is "valid and enforceable''.
The clash over the Bowen Basin site, about 50km outside Rolleston, is the most dramatic flare up of tension yet between the two camps, which were thrown together in a shotgun marriage.
Baynton told City Beat that his outfit "inherited Dome Petroleum as a JV partner'' when it acquired an initial 60 per cent stake in the project last year.
"Dome was a JV participant from more than 10 years earlier when the permit was operated by other parties, including Senex,'' he said.
"We understand from people connected with Senex that Senex gave up its interest in the permit due to difficulties with its JV partner at the time.''
It's not hard to see why Baynton and his team would want nothing to do with Dome Resources. The company's majority owner and former managing director, Adrian Eyre, is now serving a 7½-year stint in a UK iron motel for defrauding 340 people out of nearly £7 million in a complex investment scam.
Following a three-year police probe, the 64-year-old rip-off merchant was convicted of three counts of fraud in October and sentenced last month.
In addition to prison time, he was ordered to pay back £1.9 million to his victims.
Eyre, who still owns 62 per cent of Dome Petroleum, used the money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle, which included buying a Mercedes and other luxury goods.
His associate, Robert Fucilla, was acquitted of fraud and money laundering charges in the case.
Fucilla's brother and father still serve as directors of Dome Petroleum but there's no suggestion of wrongdoing on their parts.