GREEN DEALS: Torrens' troubles

A major shareholder pushes for a board spill at Torrens Energy, while hope remains that the solar hot water rebate could be reintroduced.

If you thought things couldn’t get worse for Torrens Energy, perhaps it’s time to reassess.

The geothermal company, which has failed to see its share price get near the 90 cent mark it reached pre-GFC, was forced to suspend geothermal activities last year and saw its managing director depart last month, now has a major shareholder thirsty for a board spill.

Deck Chair Holdings has requested a general meeting to seek the election of Gabriel Chiappini and Winton Willesee to the board and force the removal of Dennis Gee, Howard McLaughlin, John Canaris and David Eiszele as directors.

Deck Chair is a company associated with Darien Jagger, a co-founder of Cygnet Capital. Cygnet was the lead manager of the Torrens IPO back in 2007 and acted as underwriter to the company’s entitlement issue in September last year. In other words, the relationship appears to have been rosy for a considerable period of time. What’s changed since September one can only speculate, but a recent 12 per cent share placement to the company of an incoming director appears the most likely catalyst.

Late last month Torrens appointed Anthony Wooles to the board and completed a 12.1 per cent placement at 5 cents per share to AEW Capital, a company chaired by Wooles. The move consequently diluted Jagger’s holdings.

Wooles is best known as the managing director of PearlStreet Energy Services, a company he founded in 2004 and eventually sold to Campbell Brothers in 2009. His links to Torrens come through current Torrens director David Eiszele, who worked as chairman of PearlStreet alongside Wooles before the company’s sale.

The Torrens board has signaled its intent to fight back against the push by Jagger.

“In view of the relationship between the company and Cygnet, the board of directors of TEY is disappointed with the circumstances that have arisen, and is investigating its legal options,” the company said in a statement.

Despite all the hubbub, the news was actually greeted with positivity from investors, with the company’s stock gaining almost a cent since the Monday announcement.

Geodynamics

Geodynamics Limited has received final approval to spud the Habanero 4 well. Drilling of Habanero 4 is expected to take four months and is considered crucial to proving the future viability of their operations in the Cooper Basin with JV partner Origin Energy.

“Recommencement of drilling operations at Habanero 4 is a significant milestone for Geodynamics,” Chief Executive Officer Geoff Ward said. “Re-establishing access to the Habanero reservoir is a key step to demonstrating the commercial potential and productivity of the world-class deep granite geothermal resource in the Cooper Basin.”

The Geodynamics-Origin joint venture also announced the sale of the jointly-owned drilling rig asset, Rig 100, to a subsidiary of Weatherford International for $16.8 million (less sale fees). Weatherford has been commissioned to use the rig for the drilling of Habanero 4, which will begin within the next week, pending the reception of funds for the sale.

Solar hot water rebate

The big news from last week may no longer be stealing the headlines, but it has brought about an unlikely partnership. Yes, the Greens and the Coalition are on the same side, seeking to force the federal government to reintroduce the solar hot water rebate until June 30 after it was surprisingly dumped last week. The Coalition is well aware that Labor’s budget surplus promise is looking flimsy and, as mentioned in this column last week, an extension of the rebate until June 30 could see next year’s budget hit. The Coalition will introduce a Private Member’s Bill into Parliament in the next sitting fortnight and for it to pass it requires the support of most of the crossbenchers (four of six) in the House of Representatives. Where the independents stand is not known, meaning the progress of the proposed bill is uncertain, particularly as the Greens have yet to confirm their support.

Acciona

Spanish-owned infrastructure group Acciona has reportedly scaled back senior staff numbers at its Australian wind power business on the back of weaker market conditions and global budget cutbacks from head office. However, the company has confirmed that its new structure would see overall staff numbers increase as it centres attention on its Mt Gellibrand wind farm and the Moree Solar Farm, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Last week Acciona joined the consortium behind the Moree Solar Farm, further increasing their Australian footprint, provided the project gets the go ahead. Meanwhile, construction of the 189MW Mt Gellibrand wind farm near Colac in Victoria’s south-west is about to begin, but no likely completion date has been set, with the company still looking to finalise a power purchase agreement, according to the AFR.

NewEn Australia

NewEn Australia began work on the Salt Creek wind farm on Monday after receiving approval from Moyne Shire Council last week.

The proposed 15 turbine wind farm near Woorndoo in Victoria’s south-west is expected to have an output of 29.9MW when complete. It was placed under threat last year as the council considered complaints from residents.

“While there is a great deal of local support for the wind farm, there is one family living nearby with concerns,” NewEn director Ernst Weyhausen said, according to The Warrnambool Standard. “We are willing to remove some of our turbines near their houses to create a better outcome for all involved, provided that council will accept such an amendment to the planning permit.”

New technology may assist the company in reducing the final number of turbines to 10, while still being able to produce 29.9MW.

Petratherm

Finally, back to the geothermal sector and Petratherm Managing Director Terry Kallis has been appointed chairman of the Australian Geothermal Association. AGEA has a big year ahead as it seeks to gain access to funding made available as part of the federal government’s Clean Energy Futures plan.

If you have any tips or information that you feel should make its way into Green Deals please send it through to info@climatespectator.com.au.

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