Slugcatcher looks at Tassie's map 'o' Eden

Not many things terrify Slugcatcher. He’s slithered, flat on his back, through a gap in freshly-blasted rock 2km underground in a South African goldmine with the ceiling 10cm from his nose. He’s dived into a canyon in a light helicopter with a Vietnam veteran pilot who tried to kill himself several times in Phuc Tuy, and he’s been caught short of air in an underwater rock cave.

Scary as these experiences were none rival the terror of being stuck in a boardroom with a company director, a projector, a presentation that is 69 slides long, and a promise that “I won’t speak to all of them”.

As soon as those words were uttered, Slugcatcher knew he was doomed.

Quick, where’s the door? Blocked. What about the window? No good, 40 floors up. How about a polite escape half-way? Too rude.

Nothing else to do by knuckle down, cross your fingers and hope that something interesting is covered.

At first, it looked hopeful. The presentation in question was from Greg Solomon, boss of Tasman Resources, a mineral explorer which is busy trying to develop a “green” energy business known as Eden Energy.

For a lawyer, Greg’s not a bad chap. And the topic he had chosen to speak on is interesting with oil north of $US50 a barrel. Eden, he said, is keen to become a player in the hydrogen economy, geothermal power, and coal-bed methane.

These are all hot button topics. Perhaps Greg is on a winner.

For the first few minutes as Slugcatcher listened to Greg get warmed up it seemed there might be some potential in hanging around.

It wasn’t until around the quarter-hour mark, as he clicked over to slide 15 on the projector that a question started to crystallise; why is Greg giving us a lesson in hydrogen 101, surely he knows that his audience of hardened old scribblers has heard all this before?

Does he really need to tell us that Germany has a target of 10,000 hydrogen filling stations by 2010 – and even if he does what on earth has that got to with a small Perth-based exploration company.

And that is when Slugcatcher spotted the missing link. Not once did Greg mention the grubby subject of money; like how much has Tasman/Eden got, when will it start generating cashflow, what are the profit projections, where’s the business plan, and what’s happening to the Tasman share price.

Slugcatcher was mystified. Here was a man seemingly speaking with great knowledge and authority about a globally significant subject. Perhaps Tasman/Eden is on the verge of a breakthrough that will put Shell and ExxonMobil in the shade – put where is the money?

The answer seems to be that there isn’t much, at least that’s what the stock market believes because after the 69-slide show Slugcatcher took a squiz at Tasman’s fundamentals and came up with this: Tasman has an issued capital of 77 million shares priced at around 7.7c a share, which produces a market capitalisation somewhere around $6 million – about Shell’s cashflow in a quiet 30-seconds of trading.

On Monday the Tasman/Eden missing link became even more interesting because Tasman issued a statement saying it has signed a memo which could lead to converting 10,000 buses in Beijing to run on hythane (hydrogen and methane).

Once again, it sounds fabulous, and this time the stock market rewarded Tasman with a price rise, all the way from a 7.1c close on Friday, up to 8c by mid-Monday, and than back to 7.6c – a net gain from 10,000 Beijing buses of half a cent.

Slugcatcher wishes Greg every success with Tasman/Eden, but reckons that the market will take a bit more massaging before the next firing of a 69-slide salute.

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