AN oil and gas explorer backed by Gina Rinehart (pictured) is suing the Victorian state government for more than $2.7 billion for banning onshore oil and gas exploration.
Lakes Oil NL (ASX: LKO) and its subsidiaries Mirboo Ridge and Petro Tech, filed a writ in the Supreme Court of Victoria initiating further legal proceedings to those announced on 27 October.
In late August, the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews permanently banned fracking and added a four-year moratorium on conventional onshore drilling activities.
The writ is asserting that the Lakes Oil NL, which boasts Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting as its largest shareholder, has been deprived of the opportunity to use its exploration permits, constituting a "derogation" from those grants.
"The derogation from grant claim is based upon a fundamental legal principle that a party, having given a thing with one hand, is not to take away the means of enjoying it with the other," says the company in a statement.
"The unjust and unlawful actions of the Victorian Government, and its proposed Bill to ban onshore exploration, have caused significant losses to the company and its 11,000 long-standing shareholders."
The company, which is 79 years old, has onshore exploration permits in both the Gippsland and Otway Basins in Victoria and has reportedly invested around $100 million on exploration in that time.
On its website, it states: "Lakes oil is not involved in coal seam gas. We do not intend to be involved in coal seam gas. Lakes Oil cannot be involved with coal seam gas as our permits are under the Petroleum Act, & CSG is under the Minerals Act."
Lakes Oil is talking to legal funding bodies to get the cash needed for the fight.
At the time the ban was announced, Lakes Oil NL chairman Christ Tonkin said, "Lakes Oil must now consider all options. The company has, in good faith, and in accordance with legislation, invested heavily in onshore gas exploration in Victoria, the company's home base since it was established in 1946."
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