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Surat BasinNEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

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COUNTDOWN TO GLOBAL FIRST BEGINS Linc Energy begins commissioning of plant with outcome to reverberate in the world’s energy markets L

inc Energy has entered the fourth week of a 10-week commissioning phase of its gas to liquids demonstration facility in Chinchilla. The commissioning and finalisation of the GTL plant will be an ongoing process for about the next six weeks. It will include completion in parallel with numerous piping and cabling runs. Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond said the start of commissioning marked a significant milestone for shareholders and the company’s team. “The beginning of commissioning of Australia’s first coal to liquids plant and indeed the world’s first underground coal gasification to diesel facility is something we can all be very proud of,” he said. “These steps we at Linc

Energy are taking here at Chinchilla will soon reverberate in the energy markets of the world. “As more and more people begin to realise that Linc Energy has the potential to produce very high quality diesel and jet fuel from coal at a low cost point with a low CO2 footprint, the potential of such a company and what it offers will become obvious to all.” The commissioning program essentially runs in stages with each unit of the GTL demonstration plant commissioned in sequence. Linc Energy chairman Brian Johnson said the demonstration facility was a credit to the dedication of capability of those involved. “One cannot but be impressed by what our team

have achieve here,” he said. Over the coming weeks, Linc Energy will also expand its drilling program at and around its Chinchilla tenements, with three drill rigs working the site. In addition, the continual expansion and improvement of the UCG field is ongoing. Linc Energy has been continuing to add to its impressive team of personnel with a serious push on the acquisition of more GTL engineers and associated coal gasification professionals. “We at Linc Energy have a lot to do in a very short time frame but over the past 18 months we have built a very good base to springboard from,” Mr Bond said. “This coming period is going to be a very exciting time for the Linc Energy team and its shareholders.”

Woman’s role in $110m gas project recognised A Brisbane woman’s contribution to the success of a $110 million coal seam gas project has been recognised in the Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) annual Resources Awards for Women. Shalene McClure who is team leader for Santos’ Roma coal seam gas project received a Leadership Award, which was presented by the Minister for Child Safety and Women at the QRC’s annual International Women’s Day breakfast before a crowd of almost 500 people. Shalene disliked school intensely, but found working in a fish and chip shop equally as

“Shalene is an excellent ambassador for the minerals and energy sector and an inspiration to other women...” uninspiring so did her best to ensure that this was not a longterm option. She began her career as a geological drafter with MIM Exploration, and after looking at rocks in South West Africa for her next employer Crusader Oil, was inspired to study geology. She joined Santos in 1996 and has worked her way up to being team leader for its $110 million

Roma coal seam gas project where she leads its implementation. The success of this project is instrumental in the company being able to commit to the proposed $5 to $7 billion LNG project at Gladstone. As well as mentoring students and graduates, Shalene is the federal vice president of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia and in two year’s time

— www.suratbasin.com —

will become its president. She has written a number of publications and research papers on oil and gas topics. “Shalene is an excellent ambassador for the minerals and energy sector and an inspiration to other women working in, or contemplating a career in the industry,” said QRC chief executive Michael Roche. The awards are part of the

QRC’s Women in Resources Action Plan (WRAP), which aims to encourage more women to work in the resources sector. Currently women make up 11 per cent of QRC members’ workforce and, in non-traditional roles, the figure is seven per cent. “With WRAP, we have set ourselves a target to increase the percentage of our female workforce in non-traditional roles to at least 12 percent by 2020,’ Mr Roche said. This year’s overall Resources Award for Women went to BMA Goonyella Riverside Mine senior engineer-major projects Melanie Gordon.


LOCAL NEWS

Surat Basin NEWS The Team

David Richardson General Manager

Beth Walker Graphic Design

INSIDE THIS EDITION:

Laurell Ison Advertising

John Farmer Journalist

The Newspaper The Surat Basin News will initially publish quarterly and will be delivered via the three dominant newspapers of the region: the Chinchilla News, Western Star and Dalby Herald. It will reach the homes and offices of almost 12,000 living, working and playing in the Surat Basin, connecting the business and mining communities throughout the booming region. Plans are the make the newspaper more frequent once support has been established.

THE NEWS:

RESOURCES:

INFRASTRUCTURE:

Roma-based company Wild Desert has blossomed in recent times. Actev Manufacturers tackles adult literacy while both Arrow Energy and Queensland Gas Company record impressive six-month profits. The State Government remains committed to guiding the growth.

Queensland Gas Company is set to take Surat Basin gas around the world through a new $870 million alliance. Meanwhile, Dalby’s ethanol plant moves closer to the November handover date.

Charlton’s $150 million freight port is approved while Surat Basin Rail welcomes a new chief executive. The proposed Nathan Dam development threatens a rare species of snail and a new pipeline could take coal seam gas to southern markets.

OPINION:

THE TOWNS:

THE PEOPLE:

QRC chief executive Michael Roche provides a glimpse into the long term issues facing Queeensland’s resource sector. Meanwhile, Howard Hobbs MP takes a tour of Santos’ gas field near Roma.

Arrow Energy’s committed Dalby workforce, Roma’s rollercoaster ride and the Dalby organisation linking young people, schools and businesses to solve employment issues.

Regardless of what development unfolds across the region, it is the people who will forever define the communities. Take a look at what has taken place in your town over the past few weeks.

The Website suratbasin.com will deliver the news, events and employment opportunities of the Surat Basin around the world. The website will be community focussed, allowing towns and businesses to connect with major industry, investors and government agencies.

The Vision Surat Basin News is not a necessity. It was born out of a passion for Australia's fastest growing communities — a passion for a region of unbridled potential and a future of vast economic growth and opportunities. The newspaper, professionally designed and regionally topical, will be a must read for anyone associated with the exciting Surat Basin. Surat Basin News will allow local businesses to network and communicate with everyone in the 300 sq km basin, providing unprecedented access to new clients and markets. It will give a revealing insight into major industry while lifting the veil on current and proposed developments. It will be there for each and every announcement shaping the region's future while profiling the colourful characters that define our communities.

S u r a t B a s i n News Circulation 10,500 Inserted into the three dominant media outlets in the Surat Basin area; the Chinchilla News, the Dalby Herald and the Western Star. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE PHONE 4662 7368

Feedback on this publication and ideas for future issues are invited.

advertise@suratbasin.com.au or editorial@suratbasin.com.au PAGE 2

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008


Surat Basin News

WILD DESERT BLOSSOMS Roma success story on page 4-5

THE NEWS State still committed to manageable Surat growth T PAGE 6

Arrow builds momentum Six month profit of $14.2 million accompanied by a stake in Braemar 2 PAGE 7

Skills for their future Miles company takes a unique and innovative approach for upskilling its workforce

PAGE 7

QGC’s solid six months On the back of a $22.1 million half year profit, exploration is ramped up

he State Government will continue its work with the Surat Basin community to ensure it reaps the rewards of strong economic development. Regional Development and Industry Minister Desley Boyle said key staff from the Department of Tourism, Regional Development and Industry would continue meetings in the region in the coming months to develop ways to best prepare for the region's rapid development. “Increased resource development in the Surat Basin region has created enormous opportunities for local communities, but it is also leading to a growing strain on social and community infrastructure,” Ms Boyle said. “It is important we act now in these early stages of development to ensure services and support to those living in the region keep pace with industry and business growth.” Ms Boyle said an important issue currently being addressed was social impact assessments for new and expanding resource projects. “We intend to ensure that any future assessments make use of the best models and strategies to identify any issues early on and create workable solutions that mean new activity doesn't disadvantage the community at large,” she said. Ms Boyle said forming local partnerships between all tiers of government, across government and with local stakeholders was crucial at this

As the Surat Basin develops, the State Government remains committed to ensuring the growth is manageable and communities do not suffer. point. “I'm pleased to see there is goodwill in the region and a willingness to work together to address the concerns starting to emerge,” she said. Minister Boyle said opportunities arising out of the Surat Basin region had been given priority status by the Queensland Government through the Centres of Enterprise initiative. “Through the Centre of Enterprise approach we've recognised the region's potential to become an economic pow-

erhouse for Queensland,” she said. “The initiative also empowers the local community to identify and develop local growth opportunities in key sectors.” Ms Boyle said the ongoing development of the region's energy resources would provide

significant flow-on effects to supply chain businesses from mining services and other sectors including construction, infrastructure, transport and logistics. “The region's future wealth and sustainability hinges on its ability to capture these flow-on opportunities,” she said.

Call for sweeping overhaul of policy Queensland's resources sector has urged a sweeping overhaul of state government policies to capitalise on the ‘supercycle' of global demand for minerals and energy. In its 2008-09 Budget submission to Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser, the Queensland Resources Council has called for a budget to “target and enable the structural changes and economic reforms necessary to lock in a prosperous and assured future”. “The minerals demand supercycle is considered by many leading ana-

lysts to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for resource-rich and export-focused states such as Queensland,” QRC chief executive Michael Roche said. “However, the greatest domestic threat to a scenario of sustainable resource sector development is limited government vision.” Having established its economic credentials over many decades, Mr Roche said the time was ripe for the Queensland Government to move beyond the role of broker, facilitator and business case assessor.

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

“Where are the public assets of the future to come from, if not from calculated, bold and visionary investments by governments of the day?” he said. “The state government could reduce financial pressures from debt funding of infrastructure by reducing its traditional role in areas underwritten by industry commitments such as ‘take or pay' contracts— a common tool in financing the construction of mining infrastructure such as rail and port facilities.”

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LOCAL NEWS

A FLOURISHING, FERTILE Two Roma families have turned years of experience on local gas fields into the thriving rig service company Wild Desert, John Farmer reports avid Whiley's enthusiasm was almost infectious and went well with the glint in his eye. Maybe it was because the next day he and wife Gina were stepping away from Wild Desert for the first time in years.

D

Gina Tedford and David Whiley, half of the Wild Desert team.

An almighty 12 month haul Life on any Surat Basin gas field or mine site has been anything but quiet in recent years. Companies are ramping up exploration and production programs in an attempt to forge forward and secure their place in the market. Few know this better than the Wild Desert crew. Last week, the company’s first ever well servicing rig recorded a milestone when it reached 365 days without any downtime. Or maybe, and more likely, it was because the 35-year-old was living a dream that only became true because of Roma, his hometown. David is a quarter of the team that has made service rig operator Wild Desert a blossoming Roma business, everyday branching out further across the Surat and Bowen basins. His wife Gina, business partner Andrew Callow and his wife Marnie make up the other three quarters. “It was a long term goal. We always had a vision of maybe one day owning our own business with rigs,” David said. “But while I envisaged 15 years ago I'd like to be here, I never realised it would move this quick. “The realism really kicked in 12 months ago. The demand's here and is just growing everyday.”

The performance of the rig can be attributed to a number of factors — from the head of the company down. The ability of the service rig to operate 24 hours a day over an entire year speaks volumes for the company’s mechanical and service crews. The performance can be traced back to Wild Desert’s shed where the rig was refurbished before heading out on its 365 day shift, and on-site where the new fulltime

mechanic worked to keep the rig churning over. The year-long shift was also possible because of Wild Desert’s safety management plan. Implemented by management and maintained by the drill rig manager, the plan ensured no loss of time injuries. Finally, the rig crew’s commitment played a pivotal part in the milestone. Through rain, hail or shine, 24 hours a day, the crew worked as a team to keep the rig operating.

“The realism really kicked in 12 months ago. The demand's here and is just growing everyday.” David made his first buck on the drill rigs around Roma in the mid 90s, just like his brothers before him. For Andrew, the story was much the same. The two started buying Wild Desert's first service rigs in early 2006 — currently they have three that can handle just about anything industry would ask of them. After 15 years in the game, David knew he had taken a risk “When we started off it was very competitive,” he said. “We had a lot of big

players out there against us.” At the moment, Wild Desert can be found on the same block as David and Gina's family home on the northern edge of Roma's bustling industrial estate. The offices adjoin a backyard shed and not a single sign hangs out front. But things are about to change. With another rig arriving from Canada soon the business has outgrown its modest settings and is heading into the heart of Roma's industrial estate. Wild Desert's new site will become

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

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LOCAL NEWS

WILD DESERT "But the new site will give us the opportunity to really put our growth and professionalism into play." the base for its 45 employees — some running rigs outside of Chinchilla and others working the company's service centre. Ninety per cent of equipment, usually imported from overseas, is built onsite and all the rigs are refurbished in-house. David said the new $1.5 million premises, which should be completed by August this year, represented a milestone for the company. “It will definitely be the point in time that really puts us on the map,” he said. “While we're probably already there, I guess people still just think we're that little company. “But the new site will give us the opportunity to really put our growth and professionalism into play.” David's long term ambitions for Wild Desert are pretty simple. They revolve around Roma — remaining loyal to the town — and around the company's greatest asset — its workforce “I'm very loyal to Roma I guess,” David said. “I'm a Roma boy and I have a lot of pride in the fact we're all from Roma and we're probably the only local blokes that have taken the risk and started a rig company.” Rig manager Aaron Alcock is one member of Wild Desert’s growing workforce.

The Wild Desert drill rig crew, based at Queensland Gas Company’s Kenya gas field, south of Chinchilla.

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

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LOCAL NEWS

Arrow delivers another powerful six months A high margin strategy and low operation costs ends in a $14.2 million six months Leading Australian integrated energy company Arrow Energy last month announced a $14.2 million pre-tax profit for the half year ended December 31. The company’s half year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was $21.2 million.

MARGIN GROWTH Arrow chief executive and managing director Nick Davies said the company had started the current financial year strongly on the back of its high margin strategy and sustained low operational costs. “Arrow has achieved an operational EBITDA margin of $1.25 per gigajoule (GJ) up from $1/GJ a year ago while average field development costs remain at around $0.50/GJ despite high oil prices causing pressure on goods and services,” Mr Davies said. “We expect our operational EBITDA margin to double by this time next year as our strategic push into downstream markets gains momentum. “Much of this early growth in margins is due to our exposure to the downstream electricity market, through our throughput ownership of the Daandine and Townsville Power Stations, where prices are very strong.” Arrow’s emergence as a major Australian integrated energy player was hastened by the company’s acquisition of Enertrade from the Queensland Government in December last year which included the North Queensland Gas Pipeline and the rights to dispatch power from the 230 MW Yabulu Power Station in Townsville. Arrow also has a 10 per cent

stake in Liquefied Natural Gas Limited with an option to take a 20 per cent interest in the company’s proposed LNG plant in Gladstone. Arrow is to provide up to 150 Peta Joules (PJ) of gas per annum to the LNG plant at prices linked to crude oil.

FULL YEAR EARNINGS GUIDANCE The strong earnings growth will continue in the second half of the financial year with the company expecting full year results for the financial year ending June 30, 2008 to include revenues in the range of $92 – 97 million, EBITDA of $55 – 60 million and pre-tax earnings of between $30 – 35 million.

RESERVES & PRODUCTION GROWTH Mr Davies said a 40 per cent ramp up of the company’s Surat Basin fields over the past six months had seen net gas production jump to 7.5 petajoules (PJ) in the half year. Electricity sales increased from 18,880MWh to 172,270MWh for the half year ending December 31, 2007 compared to the prior half year. Continued strong production trends in the field during the half year resulted in a 2P reserves upgrade in January to 791 PJ. The company is targeting increasing 2P reserves to 1550 PJ by the end of the financial year and then to 2200 PJ by the end of calendar 2008 through an extensive exploration and appraisal program.

INTERNATIONAL GROWTH Mr Davies said Arrow’s half year had a strong opening with the signing of a Letter of Intent with major Chinese government owned oil and gas company PetroChina in July. A week later the company signed two more major Chinese agreements to bring its number of projects in the country to seven. Then, in January, the company signed a Production Sharing Contract with the Vietnamese government for a large exploration area outside of Hanoi.

Arrow Energy’s Daandine and Stratheden will feed the new Braemar 2 Power Station.

Arrow’s stake in Braemar 2 Arrow’s position as an integrated energy company moved forward this month when it took a 50 per cent stake in what will be Australia’s largest gas-fired power station. The company, with ERM Power, will jointly develop the $545 million Braemar 2 Power Station and associated high pressure gas pipeline. It will be adjacent to the Braemar 1 power station which was managed by ERM Power from conception through to successful construction, operation and trading. The project is scheduled for financial close in the first half of this year and the agreement contains conditions precedent which require ERM to achieve the majority of the remaining components necessary for project financial close. Arrow will fund its share of the investment from existing cash resources and debt facilities currently being arranged. Arrow Energy chief executive Nick Davies said the project was another part of the company’s margin push. “Arrow’s planned investment in

the Braemar 2 Power Station continues its stated and well-defined strategy of downstream investment to enhance margins on its gas sales,” Mr Davies said. “The Braemar 2 Partnership brings our total net generation capacity to 370 MW of gas fired generation thus increasing our exposure to a buoyant electricity market as well as the emerging carbon credit market. “This investment will further cement Arrow’s position as a fastgrowing integrated energy company which is going further to meet Queensland’s increasing energy demands.” As an integral part of the transaction Arrow has signed a gas sales agreement with the Braemar 2 Partnership to supply 11.5 petajoules per year of gas over a 12 year period at a price aligned to the underlying electricity revenues. This gas will be supplied from Arrow’s Daandine and Stratheden gas fields located in close proximity to the proposed power station. Development work of the Stratheden field will start immediately. Preparatory siteworks have

THE BENEFITS • Significant investment and job creation in regional Queensland • Increased power supply for Queensland • Cutting greenhouse commissions • Providing a reliable and stable electrical supply for Queensland. commenced and construction of the power station will take about 18 months with first electricity sales due in the second half of 2009. ERM has carried a number of significant power projects to financial close over the last four years including Braemar 1 (450 MW), Kwinana (320 MW), Neerabup (335 MW) and Uranquinty (640 MW). Arrow’s planned investment in the Braemar 2 Power Station continues its stated and well defined strategy of downstream investment to enhance margins on its gas sales.

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008


LOCAL NEWS

Exploration ramped up as QGC announces a $22.1m half year profit Integrated energy company QGC this month announced a net profit after tax of $22.1 million for the six months to December 31, 2007 – and unveiled a strategy to dramatically increase commercial gas reserves for the Australian onshore LNG project with BG Group (formerly British Gas). QGC managing director Richard Cottee and chairman Bob Bryan said they were delighted with the company’s maiden profit and strategic positioning to take full advantage of the growing demand for cleaner energy in Australia and offshore. Mr Cottee said that following the success of QGC’s Gas Acceleration Strategy ‘GAS’, the company had embraced Longterm Natural Growth ‘LNG’ with its new partner BG Group, a global energy company. In February 2008 QGC and BG Group announced Australian Onshore LNG – a massive joint project to produce 3-4 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for higher value international markets. EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of $13.2 million for the half year represents the company’s best-ever result. EBITDA of $13.2 million is an increase of 1,561 per cent over the figure for the six months to December 31, 2006. NPAT of $22.1 million includes recognition of an income tax benefit of $14.8 million. The earnings were achieved with total revenue of $35 million compared with $10.6 million for the corresponding period in 2006 — an increase of 230 per cent. The results follow a period of enormous growth for the coal seam gas producer, now Queensland’s third-largest company by market capitalisation (about $3.2 billion). QGC’s world-class 2P (proved and probable) gas reserves in the Surat Basin in Queensland increased to 1,317 PJ by December 31 — almost double the 695 PJ at the end of 2006. The company’s gas reserves and contingent resources topped 7,255 PJ in the six months to the end of 2007. In addition to upgrading commercial reserves, independent certifiers Netherland Sewell and Associates Inc boosted QGC’s contingent resources by 1,022 PJ for the company’s highly promising tenement, ATP 621P (which covers an area six times the size of the current Berwyndale South development). The alliance with BG Group will achieve LNG sales at double the price at which QGC currently sells its natural gas into the domestic market. Mr Cottee said QGC’s existing exploration program would be ramped up to meet 2P goals for the Australian Onshore LNG project, which is set to ship LNG in 2013 from a terminal to be built in Gladstone. QGC’s published gas sales target for 2008 has been revised from 30 PJ to 23 PJ as part of the company’s reallocation of resources for the accelerated exploration. “We are committing ourselves to exploration goals which will see us realise significantly more value from our world-class acreage in the Surat Basin,’’ Mr

COMING OF AGE 2007 • July 1 - Gas sales commence to IPL • July 18 - Development approval received for Condamine Power Station • July 30 - accelerated program for Condamine Power Station with first gas in February 2009 • August 16 - QGC’s share of 2P reserves is upgraded by 20% • September 19 - QGC announces an operating profit of $23.8 million for the financial year ended June 30 • October 19 - Construction begins on Condamine Power Station • November 14 - QGC and AGL Energy enter into a hedging agreement for 66% of the generation output for Condamine Power Station • December 18 - QGC announces a further 19% upgrade of its share of 2P reserves, bringing total 2P reserves to 1,317 PJ • December 19 - QGC flags involvement in a gas pipeline linking QGC’s operations with the Hunter Valley in New South Wales

2008 • January 17 - QGC and AGL Energy agree on the rapid development of a 115km gas pipeline connecting QGC’s gasfields to Wallumbilla • January 22 - QGC and Murilla Shire Council agree a plan to drought-proof the town of Miles in southern Queensland • February 1 - QGC announces Australian Onshore LNG through an alliance with BG Group • February 3 - Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and BG Group join QGC for a media conference announcing the LNG project • February 4 - QGC holds an investor briefing providing further details on Australian Onshore LNG

Cottee said. “Our strategy will involve a record increase in the number of exploration wells drilled over the next two years as we prove up our contingent resources. “From recent experience we know that on average our wells have Australia’s best flow rates for coal seam gas. “Our flow rates are up and our production costs are down. About 90 per cent of our one-year-old wells are free-flowing gas without pumping equipment. “Our accelerated exploration efforts through 2008, 2009 and 2010 are expected to further demonstrate the outstanding permeability of our coals. “We will continue to meet our domestic contracts for the supply of gas while focusing on a longer lasting and more valuable benefit — the supply of LNG to overseas markets at twice the domestic price.’’ Mr Cottee said he expected the company would drill more than 200 exploration wells over the next three years. Personnel would be boosted by the hiring of more geologists, geophysicists and reservoir engineers. Mr Cottee said QGC and BG Group were working hard to achieve their shared objectives. He noted the comments of BG Group chief executive Frank Chapman, who told the Australian Financial Review (in an interview published on March 4): “QGC are actually a very, very impressive company. They have developed a technology which is world-leading. We have a very good working relationship with QGC.’’

Miles State Primary School principal Adam Myers (standing) guides Actev Manufacturers employees through the Friday afternoon literacy class.

BOOKS & STEEL How a Surat Basin manufacturer is ensuring sustained growth and a skilled workforce by targeting adult literacy From the grime and grind of manufacturing, three adult employees have returned to school to learn the basics of reading and writing. The adult literacy program was started by Actev Manufacturers last October and has been led by Miles State Primary School principal Adam Myers. The company’s directors, Jim Camilleri and Greg Evans, started the literacy program to support the expansion of their business. To churn out 16,000 winches by a May deadline, Actev Manufacturers adopted the latest machinery, which is automated and operates on computer technology. Rather than recruit workers to operate the new technology, Jim and Greg decided to upskill their current workforce. For some, improved literacy skills were a necessity. The course uses a phonicbased program that has been adopted by Miles State Primary School for students who struggle with reading and writing. Even after the first few

part of such an exciting project.” Mr Myers believes the advantages of the adult literaBY John Farmer cy program will not be confined editorial to just workplaces. @suratbasin.com.au “If we can improve literacy a little we’ll start to see the benefits not only at the busimonths, the participants had nesses where these people shown considerable improve- work, but in the whole commument and were not the only nity,” he said. ones learning something new. “And in their lives — their “I’m all about kids’ learning individual lives.” so as we go I’m learning about One of the participants, adult literacy,” Mr Myers said, John Hamlin, finished his secwhose vested interest in litera- ondary education midway cy was behind his decision to through year 9. Even before volunteer for the program then, his attendance was nothThrough his role as Western ing to write home about. Downs Careers Group chair“It was just the way it was man, Jim feels literacy is often for our generation,” John said. overlooked as a hurdle to “I spent more days at home recruiting and retaining helping my father than I did at skilled workers. school. The long term ambition of “But I’m loving this — it’s those behind the adult literacy teaching me something.” program is to see it expanded Another participant, to include all trades and busi- Lindsay Grams, feels nesses. improved literacy will lead to “He’s definitely led the push more career options. for the adult literacy program “It’s upgrading our skills,” and if all goes it could be he said. “Without the skills we expanded,” Mr Myers said. won’t be able to climb the lad“I really appreciate being a der.”

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OPINIONS Surat Basin NEWS 12 Mayne Street Chinchilla, QLD 4413 PO Box 138, Chinchilla, 4413 Phone: 4662 7368 General Manager: David Richardson Advertising: Laurell Ison

Editorial Loyal to locals The Surat Basin's manufacturing and trade sectors have enjoyed a period of strength and prosperity over the past few years. The next few could be even better. But regardless of the location, size or purpose of a business, few have turned their backs on their communities. Travel anywhere across the Surat Basin, and workplace training has not only been embraced — it has become a priority. Much of reason why Queensland's apprentice and trainee numbers have experienced such a dramatic spike can be traced back to the Surat Basin. Companies are working overtime to meet the expectations of resource companies and their suppliers, and are doing so by employing and upskilling locals where possible. The Dalby Manufacturers Group has led by example for the past six years and its readiness to confront the issue must be commended. But it has not come without its rewards. During a time when mines and resource projects are providing a considerable attraction for skilled labour, members of the manufacturers group are ensured of retaining a capable workforce. They also have the expertise and experience in-house that training new employees does not place strain on their everyday operations. This example should be embraced by other business groups across the Surat Basin. A large reason behind the increase in workplace training is purely because of supply and demand. New and larger clients have needed more from local businesses and they have had responded by finding more effective and sustainable ways to bolster their workforces. With more than 4000 fulltime positions to be created on Surat Basin projects within the next 22 years, this should allow established businesses to remain viable and to prosper. But to build workforces, local businesses have not turned their backs on their communities. Rather than resort to recruiting from out of the local area, businesses like those members of the Dalby Manufacturers Group have remained loyal to local towns. It is a credit to them and the rewards they are reaping are deserved.

LETTERS to the editor Address to: The Editor Surat Basin News PO Box 138 Chinchilla 4413 Email to: editorial@suratbasin.com.au The Surat Basin News welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to edit them. Letters should be no longer than 200 words.

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LETTERStotheEDITOR Environmental fees outrageous The proposed fees outlined in a review of the Environmental Regulation 1998 are totally outrageous. These charges will increase primary producers costs by thousands of dollars a year — in fact the State Government tax collections from these fees will treble from $9 million to $32.5 million per annum. Last year the Environmental Protection Authority budget for compliance activities increased 25 per cent and now the bureaucracy is proposing how this increase will be funded from indus-

PUBLIC OPINION:

Ethel Priestly “I would welcome it if it’s used for sewage and the good water is reserved for drinking water. It should really help us save a lot of good water for drinking.”

try. This is grossly unfair on the industries levied and smacks more of propping up bureaucracy, rather than providing good environmental outcomes. The most concerning issue is that the proposed increases will be focused on primary producers. It is proposed that levies on piggeries will increase from $0 to $5600 for a medium sized piggery, and from $500 to $9800 for a large one. Aquaculture farms face increases from $2-$3300 now to over $9000. Beef feedlots face increases from $625 to $4400 for medium sized feedlots and up to $7600 for larger feedlots. Poultry farms face increases from $0 to $500 for smaller to medium sized farms and from $400 to $3000 for larger

farms. The proposed changes are scheduled to take affect from January 1, 2009 if approved. The proposals are outlined in the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) released as part of a review of the Environmental Protection Regulation 1988 which expires at the end of 2008. I urge affected industries and individuals to object to these proposed fees during the public consultation period. To make a submission visit www.epa.qld.gov.au and click on Public Consultation for Review of Environmental Regulation 1998 and submissions close on March 29, 2008. Howard Hobbs MP Member for Warrego

What does an alternative water source mean to Miles?

Del Brownlie

Pam Forsythe “I think it will be excellent. People will have beautiful gardens and it will be good for the town full stop.”

“I think with all the extra people coming to town we’ll eventually need it and this is a good way to get it.”

Ian Thomson “Any drop of water is precious, any gain in water will be great for the town.”

Benefits and pitfalls of new industry Much has happened since the last edition of the Surat Basin News. This edition I want to focus on the development of the coal seam gas (CSG) development and production to the north of Roma. Many may have heard of the proposed multi billion dollar Gladstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project which will see coal seam gas processed and sold into export markets. Many may have also asked what has this got to do with Roma? The Gladstone LNG project is a natural extension of Santos' core gas business which is sourced from Santos' CSG fields in the Bowen and Surat Basins. A significant percentage of Santos' gas production in the Surat Basin development is to the north of Roma. The Gladstone LNG project has been declared significant project status by the State Government due to the potential large number of local and state agencies responsible for considering approvals for the project. The LNG plant at Gladstone will be the largest operation of its kind in the world. Obviously there are many decisions to be taken by the Santos board before the final investment decision is made by the end of 2009 which would enable the first exports to occur in 2014.

COMMENT Howard Hobbs MP Member for Warrego

With the ongoing development of the CSG there is also significant waste water from some of the gas wells. The actual amount of water from individual wells varies and is difficult to predict but CSG and water go hand in hand over the life of the well which can be up to 30 years. The challenge for the broader community and Santos is what to do with the waste water. There is a perception that all CSG water is salty and full of impurities. However this is not so with the waste water that is coming from some parts of the Fairview gas field. The waste water at Fairview has actually been about for thirteen years and with the careful management there are no signs of environmental harm. The issue for the community and Santos is that there will be much more of this water as more gas wells come online and what to do with the water. It is my view that if the chemical analysis of this

Fiona Simpson MP, Santos’ Stewart Bissett and Member for Warrego Howard Hobbs at Fairview inspecting progress on the gas field. waste water is within the tolerance levels for stock and domestic artesian water currently being used in other parts of the state the waste water should be made available for use and not categorised as a waste but more of a by product which others who are interested can use. There will be consultation in the future about the over-

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

all project development and as part of that development the issue of how to sustainably manage the water will arise. It is a challenge for the community but one which I am sure solutions and sustainable uses will emerge provided there is some assistance from government and thinking on government's part outside the square.


State issues

Local impacts

Public Opinion

Queensland’s resource sector dealing with the long term issues Michael Roche, QRC

Can the government think outside the square to increase the positives Howard Hobbs, MP

With the emergence of the coal seam gas industry, what do locals think about the potential of an alternative water supply

Resonating issues for 21st century Queensland ... the extent and longevity of the A opportunities on offer to fter the setbacks from monsoonal rains that heralded 2008, it's back to full steam ahead for Queensland's minerals and energy sector. Short-term problems may make headlines, but it's the long-term outlook that's still the focus of sector attention, particularly in the areas of industry infrastructure and climate change challenge now shaping government and business policy. Never before have Australia and Queensland been presented with the opportunity to support double-digit economic growth in the world's two most populous nations. China and India represent more than one third of the world's population, and their governments are determined to vastly improve their nations' economic outlooks. That's what is driving the commodity growth ‘supercycle' and the potential for decades of ongoing financial, economic and budgetary value for Queensland. The annual value of Queensland's minerals and energy production surged through the $25 billion barrier in 2007, and $30 billion is not beyond expectations this year. The resources sector now represents more than 15 per cent of the Queensland economy and is responsible for the employment of one in every eight Queenslanders. But the extent and longevity of the opportunities on offer to Queensland and Australia will hinge on the capabilities of our export infrastructure. In 2006-07, infrastructure bottlenecks along Queensland's Goonyella coal chain cost the industry more than $1.2 billion in lost sales and demurrage charges. This was one of the key findings of Stephen O'Donnell's independent review of the Goonyella system, jointly funded by the QRC and the state government. It's expected that the Goonyella chain will continue to under-perform in 2008 as the result of constraints associated with expansion programs. Every tonne of coal that's not exported, costs the Queensland budget between $6-$8. If export infrastructure is constrained, everyone misses out including the general public who pay around $1000 less tax each year because of the resources sector in Queensland. And, our export customers won't wait. They will look to buy their coal from someone else if they are not confident in our reliability as a supplier. In the early days of the Queensland mining industry, governments were an active partner in fostering growth. Governments invested in infrastructure ahead of demand, confident that by creating commercial opportunity, sufficient resource activity would occur to allow them to recoup their investment. Year-on-year compound growth in the Queensland resources sector has averaged between four and five percent for decades. That should have been met by a program of investment from government-owned corporations in the form of larger ports, more rail tracks and thousands more rail wagons, plus the power and water to service this growth. Unfortunately, national competition policy has seen governments redefine what it means to be ‘commercial' in their dealings. It has become translated into meaning ‘maximise returns without risk'. Where are the public assets of the

COMMENT Michael Roche

Chief Executive Queensland Resources Council

future to come from, if not from calculated, bold and visionary investments by governments of the day? The Queensland Government, in concert with the federal government, industry and the private investment sector, should be prepared to comfortably shoulder more risk for leading investments. Prudent investments can establish long-term investment frameworks for private sector operations, while earning direct and indirect returns to the state. No other stakeholder can effectively play this role for Queensland. Last October, I was privileged to join Queensland Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson and a delegation from Queensland energy companies on a fact finding tour of North America. The aim of the visit was to learn more about the latest in greenhouse emission reduction initiatives in Canada and the United States, and inevitably, one of the venues for meetings with senior government officials was the Capitol Building in Washington. There some 47 years ago, President John F. Kennedy spelt out his case to Congress for an ambitious space program with the ultimate goal of putting an American on the moon by the close of the decade. Of course, Kennedy never saw his vision realised in July 1969, but he was successful in winning a nation's hearts and minds to embrace what he described as a matter of national urgency. Answering President Kennedy's challenge demanded the most sudden burst of technological creativity, and the largest commitment of resources ever made by any nation in peacetime. All told, the Apollo space program cost US taxpayers $US136 billion in today's terms, employed 400,000 Americans and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities. Moving forward to the State of the Union Address in February 2008, US President George W. Bush confirmed a commitment of $US2 billion to clean coal technology development. The contrast in the political priorities of the day couldn't be starker. But we should not be too disheartened about the potential for the United States to alter course and, as it did in the 1960s, and rapidly accelerate technology development. Australians clearly see climate change as a matter of national and international urgency. That's why Australian governments and the coal industry are in the process of investing an amount equivalent to the total US contribution to support the development of low-emission electricity production technologies in this country. The latest example of this pledge to improving the environmental performance of Australia's abundant coal and gas reserves was Premier Anna Bligh's announcement on March 19 of progress towards a large-scale, low-emission electricity generation project called ZeroGen. The demonstration project will put Queensland at the leading edge

Queensland and Australia will hinge on the capabilities of our export infrastructure.

of global efforts to demonstrate the integration of proven carbon capture and storage technologies. The technology under development separates clean-burning hydrogen gas from coal for power generation while diverting carbon dioxide for liquefaction and subsequent underground storage. Every Queenslander should be proud of the efforts being made by their governments, coal companies and scientific community to turn the goal of zeroemission electricity production into reality. Through the Queensland Clean Coal Council chaired by the Premier, the state government ($100m) and Queensland coal companies (up to $26m) are supporting the feasibility study for a two-stage roll-out of ZeroGen's coal gasification and carbon storage technology. Australia's black coal industry has itself committed up to $1

billion over the next decade from a voluntary levy to demonstrate ground-breaking technology like ZeroGen and Callide Power Station's oxy-fuel technology, which is also being supported by government. The expectation of a successful demonstration of oxy-fuel technology by 2010 is creating global interest, promising direct benefits for Australia and a host of other countries with major investments in traditional coalfired power stations. Carbon capture and storage will allow Australia to continue to generate electrons from highquality coal and gas without generating carbon dioxide. But right now, Queensland and Australia need stretch targets for energy efficiency and conservation. We should be taking a leaf out of British Columbia's book in Canada, where it has been stipulated that half the growth in electricity load to 2020 must be

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

satisfied by energy efficiency and conservation. Achieving the target means tough new building codes for houses and commercial buildings, incentives to throw out energy-inefficient appliances, rebates for efficient lighting, funding for ‘energy managers' to work with large commercial and industrial users of electricity and pricing that encourages electricity conservation. This is about buying the time needed to bring the next generation of coal and gas-fired power stations online to satisfy global electricity demand forecast to double by 2030. Just as the gold rush provided the economic foundation for much of modern Australia, a canny response to the ‘dangerous opportunity' of climate change offers a chance to build enduring wealth on the twin footings of our rich natural endowment of energy fuels and our native ingenuity.

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Surat Basin News

Green fuel capital Ethanol plant nears completion

THE NEWS R ESOURCES Sunshine Gas makes move towards Lacerta production

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Queensland gas around the world QGC’s $8 billion alliance to build an LNG plant at Gladstone

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Warming up to construction peak Initial works start on the construction of the 135 MW Condamine Power Station

LNG aspirant begins study to allow for Roma gas plant development Sunshine Gas Limited this month announced the commencement of front end engineering and design (FEED) for development of the company’s Lacerta coal seam gas field north of Roma. A consortium consisting of GHD and Delco Australia Pty Ltd has been selected to undertake the FEED study. Subject to a satisfactory outcome and all necessary regulatory approvals, GHD and Delco will then be instructed to proceed with full material procurement and construction of the Lacerta gas plant. Managing director Tony Gilby said the recent capital raising had enabled Sunshine Gas to quickly advance plans to have Lacerta into production and meet domestic demand while progressing its export liquefied natural gas (LNG) strategy. “We are pleased to have been able to appoint these

Sunshine Gas has advanced plans to move the Lacerta gas field north of Roma into production.

“... if all goes to plan, we expect to have the field in production and generating cash for the company in the second quarter next year.” two highly-credentialed firms to undertake the FEED study and if all goes to plan, we expect to have the field in production and generating cash for the company in the second quarter next year,” he said. Phase I of Lacerta’s

field development includes the construction of a 30Pj/a gas processing and dehydration plant, 8Pj/a compression capacity and the establishment of a further 40 production wells at an estimated total cost of $67 million. Additional compression

units will be built into the plant as the field output grows. Funding has been secured for Phase I development through a combination of the recent $44 million capital raising and proceeds from the sale of the company’s offshore UK oil assets which increased available cash to almost $90 million. On completion of Phase II involving another major drilling campaign, the Lacerta gas field will ultimately supply feed gas to the proposed Sunshine/Sojitz LNG project in Gladstone.

The leading role of gas in greenhouse policy PAGE 14

String added to Bow Company’s presence in the Surat Basin coal seam gas sector grows PAGE 10

The peak industry association of the upstream natural gas industry this month called on all Australians to consider how Australia’s vast reserves of clean, natural gas could be used to help the nation and the region reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic wellbeing. Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Belinda Robinson said on the day the Kyoto Protocol ratification came into effect, the nation needed to think about how to get greenhouse policy right. “We must all think about how we can tailor Australia’s response to its strategic national strength — its natural gas reserves,” Ms Robinson said. “By playing to our strengths, we can achieve real

results in offsetting emissions against a business-as-usual approach while keeping our economy strong. “The Australian natural gas industry could help avoid 180 million tonnes of global greenhouse gas emissions a year by 2017 if we meet our aspirational production targets for LNG and domestic gas — this is equivalent to 25 per cent of forecast Australian emissions in 2017. “To make this aspiration a reality, we need those policy and fiscal reforms that are necessary to shift our large gas projects off the drawing board and into reality. And we need to give gas a level playing field as a fuel for domestic power generation. “What we achieve today, in getting the settings right, or failing to harness

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

our natural gas assets, will reverberate in our children’s future. We must as a nation act now to secure low emissions energy for future generations. “Just today there are reports of a major liquefied natural gas proponent outlining a delay in a project’s development because of an anticipated fiveyear government-approvals process timeframe. “If we are to achieve real, meaningful and deep cuts as articulated by the government, gas needs to be unshackled to allow it to reach its full potential as a relatively low cost, low emissions fuel for domestic users and Asia Pacific economies.” The APPEA Council was to meet in Canberra recently to consider a range of policy matters.


RESOURCES

THE GLOBAL STAGE A new $870 million alliance between Queensland Gas Company and BG Group is about to take Surat Basin gas around the world ustralia’s leading coal seam gas producer, Queensland Gas Company (QGC), announced last month an innovative LNG alliance with global energy company BG Group to build a world scale LNG plant on the Queensland Coast using QGC coal seam gas as feedstock. QGC chairman Robert Bryan and managing director Richard Cottee said the two companies had committed to a long term alliance for the development of an LNG project producing 3-4 million tonnes per annum for the export market. The supply of 190 petajoules a year of coal seam gas to feed the project is to be sourced from QGC’s rich tenements in the Surat Basin, presently supplying the south east Queensland domestic market. The agreement places QGC in the unique and enviable position of having export sales of its product to a market leader from the anticipated first shipment in 2013 until at least 2033. Effectively, it will position QGC as one of Australia’s largest integrated energy companies. Mr Cottee said QGC’s agreement with BG Group covered an estimated $8 billion development program, including a 380 kilometre pipeline to a port site and construction of a world scale LNG plant. “This project puts Queensland’s gas on the world stage and transforms QGC from an explorer and producer to a fully integrated energy company with outstanding growth potential. The project is likely to provide tremendous value for our shareholders over the coming two decades and the creation of hundreds of jobs in

A

Queensland,” Mr Cottee said. “Combining QGC’s expertise in coal seam gas with BG Group makes strategic sense. We have a world class gas resource and they are world leaders in LNG. “This transaction is by far the most significant milestone in QGC’s history, and it will make us the clear leader in Australia’s coal seam gas sector. It provides us with excellent potential for more growth both in Australia and internationally. “The global demand for LNG is forecast to more than double from 150 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) in 2006 to 400 mtpa by 2015 and it is very exciting to be a significant player in this high growth sector.” r Bryan, who was a joint founder of QGC in 1999, expressed great satisfaction at this latest venture. He added that both QGC and BG Group were confident of meeting the contracted gas production target of 190 petajoules a year — more than the entire Queensland gas market annually. In addition, he said, QGC was determined to grow its domestic market. “A wide variety of major international customers in North America, Europe, and Asia are seeking guaranteed supplies of LNG because of the greenhousefriendly nature of this energy source, compared with coal,” Mr Bryan said.

M

Q

ueensland Premier Anna Bligh welcomed the news and said the $8 billion investment program would potentially offer massive job opportunities and a royalties windfall for the state. “To have another major mineral export opportunity in this state is welcome,” she said. “LNG is also a key transition fuel as we move away from traditional fuels. For example a gasfired power station emits half the greenhouse gases of a coal-fired station.

The international gas venture QGC and BG Group have also entered into an agreement to evaluate coal seam gas opportunities in India where BG already has established upstream and downstream business interests. This provides QGC with a further platform for very significant medium to long-term growth. QGC will also ensure that it can continue to offer a secure domestic gas supply for Queensland and eastern Australia. “As well coal seam gas contains only about 3 per cent carbon dioxide and the carbon dioxide produced can be pumped back into the coal seam as part of the gas extraction process. “Another plus is that part of the gas extraction process produces large volumes of underground water of bore-water quality, some of which can be used as town water after further processing. “The coal seam gas industry owes, in part, its beginnings to the Beattie Government ‘s original 13 per cent gas policy requirement. Our raising that to 18 per cent has played a part in boosting investor confidence, which has lead to increased exploration efforts resulting in an announcement like today’s. “My government’s world-leading 13 per cent gas policy requires retailers and other large electricity users to source at least 13 per cent of their electricity from gas-fired generation. Under ClimateSmart 2050, this will increase to 18 per cent by 2020. The two companies have committed to a long-term alliance for the development of an LNG project

“Despite this exciting exportoriented opportunity in LNG, QGC remains committed to continued energy security in Queensland,” Mr Cottee said. “Under QGC’s scenario, a minimum of 20 per cent of our gas will continue to go to the domestic market. It should be noted that over the life of the project, the Queensland Government can anticipate a multi-billion-dollar windfall in royalties and massive jobs growth.” producing 3-4 million tonnes per annum for the export market.” Ms Bligh labelled the Surat Basin as an “economic dynamo” that could replicate the development success of the Bowen Basin over the past 40 years. “(Last month’s) news reinforces that the Surat minerals province — centred on a triangle west from Toowoomba to Taroom/Injune down to the New South Wales border — is going to critical in future state development,” she said. “The province has significant development opportunities in thermal coal seam gas, thermal coal, and coal seam gas water. “By the year 2030, it is predicted to provide additional gross regional (southern inland Queensland) product of more than $10 billion a year. “And as a province predicted to create an extra 16,000 fulltime jobs by 2030.” By 2030 the population in the Surat energy resources province is predicted to reach 260,000.

G Group chief executive officer Frank Chapman said the group’s focus was on “connecting competitively-priced gas to high-value markets.” “This alliance with QGC will secure access to new and commercially-proven sources of gas, with significant reserves potential within reach of Australian and Asia-Pacific markets. We look forward to working with QGC to create value for both parties,” he said. The various agreements contain change of control provisions. The agreement under which BG Group gains its interest in relevant QGC assets provides that, should a change of control occur (eg, another entity gaining more than 50 per cent of QGC shares or gaining a right to control the composition of the Board), BG Group can require QGC to sell to BG Group the further 10 per cent interest in the tenements, ie, to 30 per cent, at the agreed price. The ongoing alliance agreement further provides that if QGC is subject to a change of control, BG Group may: terminate the alliance; terminate the joint marketing of gas; and cause QGC to be removed as operator of the underlying joint ventures. Under the downstream arrangements, if there is a change of control in QGC then BG Group may elect to terminate the arrangements. In each instance, termination is not automatic but at the election of BG Group. QGC has similar rights in relation to a change of control of BG Group.

B

QGC executives Richard Cottee (managing director) and Robert Bryan (chairman) were joined by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to announce QGC's alliance with BG Group (represented by managing director business development David Maxwell).

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

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RESOURCES

Why Dalby is Australia’s next

GREEN FUEL CAPITAL Producing 90 million litres of ethanol a year, the Dalby ethanol plant means cleaner, more efficient fuel with wideranging benefits for the country’s environment

THE FINANCE Dalby Bio-Refinery secured the funding package for the $130 million ethanol plant in July 2007. The package was arranged through ANZ Infrastructure Services, a move that continued that company’s funding of viable businesses in the renewable energy sector.

n Kevin Endres' bookshelf sits a sign that reads “Dance like you're in the dark” — something he has had little chance to do over the past two years. As chief executive of Dalby Bio-Refinery, Mr Endres has been at the centre of a lot of media, industry and government attention in recent times. The company is behind the $130 million grain-to-ethanol plant at Dalby, Australia's first large scale facility that by October this year will be producing up to 90 million litres of ethanol a year. Leading construction group Leighton began work last year under its contract with Dalby Bio-Refinery and is currently 35 per cent complete. At its peak, the project is expected to

O

BY John Farmer editorial @suratbasin.com.au

employ in excess of 100 during construction. Commissioning should commence by October and the plant will be handed over by the end of November. The ethanol will be marketed to major oil companies and regional fuel marketers in Queensland and northern New South Wales. The destination of 30 million litres a year for the next three years has already been decided after Caltex signed a major contract in May last year. Mr Endres, who had a long

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association with the ethanol industry in the United States before coming to Australia, believes dispersing of the remaining 60 million litres will not provide too much of a challenge. “This country's producing about just over 200 million litres of fuel-lead alcohol right now, all of which goes into the fuel stream,” he said. “The market is very big, in fact, there's probably round about a two billion litre per year

E-10 market. “So we're no where near satisfying even a 10 per cent lead at this stage.” But while the petroleum industry watches intently as the Dalby plant nears completion, some of the most fervent attention has come from Dalby district grain growers. The ethanol plant will require a minimum of 250,000 tonnes of grain a year to produce the 90 million litres, and the company's “strong” prefer-

“If you were looking for a place to put an ethanol plant to be close to sorghum, you’d probably choose Dalby.” VACANT DA APPROVED LAND IN THE SURAT BASIN 5.09HA

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008


RESOURCES ence is to purchase from local growers. That is one of the reasons the facility has been situated on a 40 hectare block on the outskirts of Dalby; “the heart of sorghum land” according to Mr Endres. “If you were looking for a place to put an ethanol plant to be close to sorghum, you'd probably have chosen Dalby,” he said. Mr Endres said the creation of a new, previously untapped market for the region's growers had created its fair share of curiosity since the plant was first proposed in 2005. “They're very excited about an alternative market — the ability to sell grain into a different industry — it's all been very positive,” he said. Grain growers are not the only in

“They’re very excited about an alternative market — the ability to sell grain into a different industry — it’s all very positive.” the rural sector set to benefit from the plant. Out of the process, a distillers grain is produced which is ideal for feeding cattle. “It is in fact a far better product than raw grain to feed to cattle,” Mr Endres said. While Mr Endres remains confident that biofuels around the world are sustainable, he admits governments must play their part. He explains that in the early days of American ethanol, a mandate created demand before the industry became self sufficient. Similar “tools”, according to Mr Endres, are needed in Australia. “The industry must be a self sufficient industry that stands on its own feet,” he said. “The government needs to believe in alternative energy and sustainable fuel and it needs to put in place tools that allow the industry to establish itself, get on its feet and get moving. “I have no doubt in m y

mind that worldwide biofuels is able to sustain itself and be a self supporting industry, but it does need help to cracking like most other industries.” And Mr Endres believes if the biofuel industry can become a sustainable and an accepted alternative, the benefits will be felt across the globe. “On an international level, we will provide a renewable, sustainable energy that reduces our carbon footprint worldwide,” he said. “As you narrow it down, the same thing applies and so really, all round, it's an environmental statement — a good, positive environmental statement.”

Dalby Bio-Refinery chief executive officer Kevin Endres.

SUPPLY CONTRACT In May 2007, Caltex agreed to a new supply contract with Dalby BioRefinery for 30 million litres of ethanol a year for three years from the date of plant completion.

Biofuels boss takes aim at the critics The world's biggest biofuels service provider has slammed its critics over disinformation surrounding the industry and has urged the Rudd Government to quickly introduce an Australia-wide ethanol mandate to secure a renewable fuels future. Mike Bryan, chief executive of the American-based BBI International, says the time is ripe for Australia to put the foot down on biofuels production to bring it into line with other countries intent on ending dependence on fossil fuels. Bryan, who garnered plenty of media attention during a recent visit to Australia, says critics of ethanol production are generally misinformed or ignorant of the facts. Mike Bryan, CEO of “I went through all the American-based this as a pioneer of the BBI International. biofuels industry in the United States many years ago,” he said. “It was war, but with 144 ethanol plants now in operation and another 57 under construction, I think you can say we won the battle — although the war is far from over.” The BBI International boss told the Queensland Country Life newspaper that the food v fuel debate, for instance, was largely being driven by the oil industry. “First up, they don't like ethanol, and second, it deflects attention away from the fact that we have oil at $100 a barrel,” he said. Mike Bryan will be one of many expert speakers dotted throughout the Ethanol 2008 Australia Conference at Sydney's Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 8 to 10. The food and fuel issue will come under intense scrutiny in an address by American Todd Sneller of the influential Nebraska Ethanol Board. The controversial topic will be further dissected during a panel debate driven by talkback radio king Alan Jones. Australian community health campaigner Dr Ray Kearney and the president of AgForce Grain, Lyndon Pfeffer of Queensland, will be on the panel — along with Todd Sneller and president of the American National Corn Growers Association, Gerald Tumbleson. The role of distillers grains will also be on the conference agenda, with Dusty Turner invited to speak. Turner, the vice president of the giant American ethanol-producing company Conestoga Energy Partners, strongly believes distillers grains are an essential link in the production of ethanol. The oil industry's perspective on ethanol production will be in the spotlight when Caltex Australia's Michael Ridley-Smith delivers his views. Caltex will be the main customer when the Dalby Bio-Refinery's ethanol plant opens in western Queensland in September. A strong list of speakers has been lined up for the Lenders and Investors Seminar which precedes the conference proper on April 8.

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PAGE 13


RESOURCES

Bow’s added CSG string

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admin@descalingdrilling.com.au

DES CALING DRILLING

The directors of Bow Energy Limited (Bow) announced recently that it had purchased all of the shares in Roma CBM Pty Ltd (Roma) which is currently earning the right to 10 per cent direct working interest in the Don Juan CSG (Coal Seam Gas) Joint Venture. The deal will increase Bow’s current interest from 45 per cent to 55 per cent of the project. The consideration for the sale is 3.25 million Bow shares, which are voluntarily escrowed for one year from the date of issue, in exchange for all of the shares in Roma CBM Pty Ltd. The Don Juan CSG Project is in Phase 1 of a reserves certification drilling and evaluation program and has to date drilled three production wells and is currently on its third core hole. Roma’s farmin obligations are to fund 20 per cent of the cost to drill and equip three production wells for pumping and three core holes to earn its 10 per cent equity in the project. In addition to the farmin work program, the post farmin joint venture Phase 1 planned drilling programs consist of a minimum of three additional core holes and eight production wells for this year with the target reserves certification of up to 200 PJ for the Project by the end of 2008. The nearest natural gas pipeline is situated just 8km east of the permit. Bow’s managing director, Ron Prefontaine, commenting on the purchase stated: “We are very pleased to have increased our equity in the

Don Juan CSG Project which has the potential to place the company on the fast track towards substantial CSG reserves and future gas sales. The planned timing for the potential commercialisation of the Don Juan CSG Project coincides with the projected increase in demand and resultant upward pressure on prices for natural gas in the eastern seaboard. The Don Juan CSG Project is located immediately west of Sunshine Gas’ Lacerta CSG project. The Lacerta Project currently has certified methane gas reserves of 469 PJ (2P) and 1097 PJ (3P). Successful gas reserve certification from this CSG project and/or success in any of Bow’s other oil exploration and appraisal programs in the Surat and Cooper Basins in Queensland have the potential to add substantial shareholder value over the next 12 months. The first well of up to a seven well Cooper/Eromanga Basin oil exploration farmin program, which Bow is fully carried on and retains 15 per cent after farmout, is planned to commence in the second half of April 2008. In addition, a completion rig which will perforate and carry out swab tests to determine potential oil flow rates of two cased and suspended oil wells on the Donga Oil Field (Bow 85 per cent) and Rookwood Oil Field (Bow 60.44 per cent) is currently scheduled to commence work around the end of this month.

Works start in earnest Construction of Queensland Gas Company’s Condamine Power Station has started in earnest, belying the peak it will hit by the last quarter of this year. Since a ceremony to mark the start of construction late last year, work has progressed steadily towards major works later this year. The 135 megawatt, coal seam gas fired plant is situated 8 kilometres east of Miles in southern Queensland. The first stage of the Condamine Power Station is scheduled to be completed by February 2009, when QGC expects to commence commercial sale of electricity to the National Electricity Market. Four staff are onsite undertaking early preparation work, including setting up offices, a generator for use during construction and support facilities. The excavation of foundations has also started. By the last quarter of this year, around 200 will be onsite including the facility’s manager. “We will appoint a power station manger shortly and that person’s first task will be to hire another eight or nine people and to have them all on site by June so they can assist in the commissioning phase,” QGC power station development manager Andrew Robson said Clearing of the 2.7km easement for the 132kV power

An artistic impression of the Condamine Power Station. line to link the power station to a new switchyard has been completed, with foundation work starting early next month. The switchyard will be connected to the existing Roma to Chinchilla power line. The power station is located on QGC’s freehold property and will take up around 65 hectares of the 518 hectare property.

QGC’s neighbouring gas fields will supply the power station with gas and water, and the power station will be operated and maintained by around eight permanent employees. The construction project’s large loads such as the gas turbines will arrive from Europe in July and August, before being transported to the site.

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008


Surat Basin News

HASTE NEEDED Snail threatened by Nathan Dam development

INFRASTRUCTURE

$150 million for Surat Basin rail freight port major piece of infrastructure, which will provide a significant boost for south east Queensland and beyond, was last month approved at the last meeting of the Jondaryan Shire Council (JSC). The council has given development consent for ATEC (Australian Transport and Energy Corridor) to develop an inter-modal regional freight port at its 200ha site at Charlton, just west of Toowoomba. John Dornbusch, chairman of ATEC Freight Terminals Trust, said the Charlton Terminal would see $150 million spent over three stages of development over the next 20 years. The Charlton Terminal is a very significant piece of regional infrastructure to be built at the gateway linking the Surat Basin resource province to the freight and logistics markets of eastern Australia. ATEC plans to develop the site over three phases. Its aim is to be the major regional port supporting SEQ growth. “South east Queensland has desperate need for an environmentally aware and efficient regional port to support the growth of the region,” Mr Dornbusch said. “ATEC has been pursuing this and the broader inland rail vision and has invested considerable funds to transform the way freight is moved within this corridor.

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Linking local gas with the south Pipeline to take Surat Basin gas to southern markets

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Drought proofing Miles Council agrees to early stages of coal seam water supply project

Over the next 20 years, $150 million will be spent on the Charlton Terminal, a significant piece of regional infrastructure. “We believe there are considerable benefits in what we are seeking to develop and offer the freight and logistics industry. We support the Queensland Government’s view that by 2030 the Surat Basin resources province will be adding $10 billion per annum to gross regional product and supporting 16,000 new jobs.” Granting ATEC the development consent is a move that is a fitting legacy for the 104 year old council, which amalgamated with Toowoomba City Council this month. The ATEC Freight Terminal at Charlton will mean jobs in the development stage and ongoing

jobs onsite. “We are of course delighted to now be able to move ahead on this very important inter-modal regional port facility. We are also looking forward to working with the incoming Toowoomba City Council in this extraordinarily exciting time for the region, its business and of course its people,” Mr Dornbusch said. “ATEC Freight Terminals Trust is here for the long term.” Stage one is set to be completed by 2012, stage two to be completed by 2016 and stage three to be completed thereafter. “In addition, we are exploring further regional

port sites in NSW and northern Queensland.” Mr Dornbusch said. “When ATEC first commenced promoting the inland rail we had to spend a lot of time explaining the benefits of shifting trucks off the road, using rail for long haul traffic and developing efficient regional ports to service freight which traditionally has been stored in expensive real estate. “I think we have turned the corner now and the logistics industry sees the opportunity to transform itself and revolutionise service levels through the use of regional ports to service the major capital cities.”

Joint venture announces new CEO PAGE 17

Call for government action Wilderness group calls for immediate action to prevent loss of snail

Surat Basin Rail Joint Venture chairman Everald Compton last month announced the appointment of experienced national utility infrastructure executive Mr Graham Dooley, as the joint venture’s new chief executive officer. For 16 years Mr Dooley was managing director of United Utilities Australia (UUA), a position which includes responsibility for United Utilities Group Australian operations and business development activities, including the project financing of major infrastructure. “The board engaged in an extensive, national search for an outstanding executive and is thrilled to have secured Mr Dooley’s services to lead the joint venture through its next stage of growth and development.” Mr

Compton said. “Mr Dooley has 20 years of CEO and board skills and experience, including working successfully in political and regulatory frameworks, in multi-party projects and with many business and community stakeholders. “He is ideally suited to take on this new role, bringing extensive knowledge of private public partnership projects, substantial infrastructure management experience and proven business capabilities.” As well as working with United Utilities Australia, Mr Dooley has held a number of senior executive positions with major national companies including the Sydney Water Board and Grain Handling Authority of NSW, Electrical Equipment Limited and as a director on the Board of Infrastructure

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

Partnerships Australia. “Mr Dooley will continue to build on the ongoing success of the Surat Basin Rail Project in fostering strong relations with the joint venture partners, the state government and key stakeholders. “A major part of Mr Dooley’s work will be overseeing the railway’s development in close partnership with the Queensland Government, to achieve financial close by 2010, in readiness for construction” Mr Compton said. Mr Compton thanked Mr Bob Stuart, Surat Basin Rail Joint Venture’s departing project director, for his contribution to the joint venture over the past 18 months. Mr Stuart will return to QR to lead key projects for the corporation.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

QGC and former council team up to waterproof Miles Queensland Gas Company (QGC) and the former Murilla Shire Council earlier this year agreed to a long term arrangement to supply more than half a billion litres of potable water each year to the town of Miles in southern Queensland. The water is produced as part of QGC’s coal seam gas extraction business in the Surat Basin. Under the landmark water supply agreement, QGC will provide up to 1.5 million litres of purified water each day to the town utilising proven reverse osmosis technology. The deal is for an initial 20-year term and the council will have an option to extend the agreement for a further 10 years. For its part, the council will construct an eight kilometre pipeline linking QGC’s plant at Condamine Power Station to the Miles water supply network. Pending approvals, construction of the pipeline is scheduled to begin soon, with first water supplies to be delivered to Miles in early 2009. The water from coal seam gas operations compares favourably with much of the bore water from the Great Artesian Basin, typically containing 1500–4000 parts per million of total dissolved solids. In 2006, QGC completed a reverse osmosis trial at its Berwyndale South production facility confirming that drinking water can be produced from harvested water. QGC managing director Richard Cottee said the company was committed to finding beneficial uses for its abundant water supplies, which in the past have all too often been evaporated and effectively lost. “Queensland’s Surat Basin region has long been a land of extraordinary resources and harsh extremes. Even if 2008 brings flooding rains, locals and farmers know only too well they could be facing parched fields and water restrictions again within a few seasons. Making beneficial use of the harvested water as a result of coal seam gas operations will provide certainty of supply to the Miles residents for at least the next 20 years,” Mr Cottee said.

Linking Surat Basin gas with the markets of the south The new pipeline that will allow Surat Basin coal seam gas to make its mark on Australia’s largest markets Queensland Gas Company announced earlier this year that it had reached agreement with AGL Energy Limited (AGL) regarding the development of a 115 kilometre gas pipeline linking QGC’s gasfields with Wallumbilla and providing increased capacity for the transport of QGC’s gas into western Queensland and ultimately the southern states. Under the terms of the agreement, AGL assumes full responsibility for the development of the project (PPLA 123) and commits to develop the pipeline with a target completion date of January 2009. Under the agreement, QGC will have an option to buy back into the pipeline, following which the pipeline would be owned equally by QGC and AGL under a 50/50 joint venture. QGC managing director Richard Cottee described the deal as a major

From Wallumbilla, QGC’s gas will make its way south through a new link between Ballera and Moomba. commitment by the parties in developing a significant piece of gas transportation infrastructure for both AGL and QGC. “This pipeline, combined with the Ballera to Moomba pipeline interconnect currently being completed by EPIC and AGL, will allow for the efficient northern and southern distribution of up to 740 PJ of gas purchased by AGL under a long term Gas Sales Agreement with QGC in March 2007,” Mr Cottee said. “From QGC’s perspective, it allevi-

ates what has been a major constraint in Queensland’s gas transportation network and supports additional gas marketing opportunities for QGC.” The pipeline will provide a major new gas transport corridor that dramatically improves the physical connection between QGC’s gasfields and markets to the west, north and the south. “QGC has invested significant energy into the development of the pipeline in line with its commitment to improve gas transportation infrastructure and open access to new markets,” Mr Cottee said.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

Snail’s future hinges on haste from government ildlife Queensland is urging the federal government to act quickly to save a rare snail threatened by the Queensland Government Nathan Dam proposal in central Queensland. Wildlife Queensland has written to the federal Department of the Environment and Water Resources giving inprinciple support to the department's draft plan for the recovery of the boggomoss snail, a rare mollusc whose habitat would be inundated if the megadam were to be built on the Dawson River. “We support the federal government's stated aim to protect the snail's habitat in collaboration with local landholders and indigenous people.” said Des Boyland, spokesperson for Wildlife Queensland. The little-known snail is one of Queensland's most endangered species — only a few hundred remain in just two sites. The site on Mount Rose Station, one of the two locations

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and home to fewer than 100 boggomoss snails (about 20 per cent of the entire known population), will be destroyed if the Queensland Government goes ahead with the large-capacity Nathan Dam proposal on the Dawson River, near Taroom. The loss of the snail's habitat on the Dawson River significantly increases the risk of extinction of this unique Queensland animal. The only other site where the boggomoss snail is known to exist, IslaDelusion Road Crossing, is often threatened by fire and trampling by stock. “The loss of one species is one species too many,” said Mr Boyland. “The Mount Rose Station site is critical to the species' survival.” The boggomoss snail gets its common name because it is only found in an unusual type of mound spring known as a ‘boggomoss' in the Dawson Valley. The boggomoss snail was only recognised in 1990s when local grazier, councillor and

SERVICING

Wildlife Queensland member Adam Clark alerted the Queensland Museum to the uniqueness of the boggomoss habitat, the unusual wildlife depending on the mound springs and the threat from the proposed Nathan mega-dam. The Queensland Museum honoured Adam's long association with the Dawson Valley and concern for conservation in bestowing the snail's scientific name — Adclarkia dawsonensis. The controversial Nathan Dam, if built, would be the fourth largest dam in Queensland. It would hold 880,000 mega litres and the dam wall would stand 27 metres high. The federal Environment Minister halted the Nathan Dam proposal in 2004 citing the potential environmental damage downstream. The Nathan Dam is back on the agenda since the state government earmarked $2 million in its 2007 budget to fund

ABOVE: The rare boggomoss snail Adclarkia dawsonensis is threatened by the possible Nathan dam project. RIGHT: Adam Clark, Taroom grazier and namesake of the boggomoss snail. SunWater's new environmental impact study of the proposal. Boggomoss springs form when underground pressure pushes water up from cracks or discharge points in rocks over artesian basins. The water carries sediments with it that form a damp mound. The mound then attracts the growth of water-loving sedges, ferns, red gums and buttercups that form a moist, rich oasis in otherwise arid country. Boggomosses are small, some less than 150 metres across, but are recognised as vitally important biogeographic provinces.

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LOCAL NEWS

Surat Basin News

THE TOWNS DALBY DISCO Linking youth with jobs

What they started the new council must now finish hat could have possibly been the last meeting of the Western Downs Regional Organisation of Councils was held recently ahead of amalgamations. The organisation combined eight councils, including six of the merging Dalby Regional councils, and championed regional collaboration. Since forming seven years ago, WDROC has implemented a skills formation strategy to combat skill shortages in the region. It has also actively lobbied the State Government for the Surat Basin Rail. Former Chinchilla Shire mayor Bill McCutcheon was the organisation’s founding chairman, a role he held until February’s landmark meeting. He said the future of WDROC would be left to the decision of the new council. The concern is under the current structure, its membership would be made up of only two local governments. “It’s now left to the new regional councils to decide where they want to go with it,” Cr McCutcheon said. “Whether it continues under the same name or whatever type of organisation it metamorphosises into, I just hope it continues under some banner.” Cr McCutcheon said WDROC had proven effec-

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The faces of Arrow Those responsible for some of Australia’s largest gas fields

PAGE 21

Roma’s peaks and troughs How the town is responding to the latest surge caused by coal seam gas

PAGE 22

A new shade of green Making Roma Regional towns cleaner, greener and more eco-friendly PAGE 18

Handing over the reins... WDROC members Roderick Gilmour, Denis Sommerfeld, Bill McCutcheon, Warwick Geisel and Mick Cosgrove at the organisation’s final meeting held in Chinchilla.

“Certainly as far as one local government body encompassing the resource-rich Surat Basin, we were there before these reforms.” tive in lobbying for causes such as health, infrastructure and economic development for the communities of the Surat Basin. He said the organisation had in many respects preempted the amalgamation of local governments in Dalby Regional. “Certainly as far as one

local government body encompassing the resourcerich Surat Basin, we were there before these reforms,” Cr McCutcheon said. “And for an organisation with a shoe-string budget and very low membership fees, we achieved quite a lot.” Cr McCutcheon said one

of the organisation’s most celebrated achievements was the formation of the W e s t e r n D o w n s Development Group. That group brings together government, education and commerce representatives from across the region to respond to community needs. “The fear is amalgamations could take away local voice and identity,” Cr McCutcheon said. “For that reason, it is imperative the development group continues because it has the potential to give communities a voice.”

Energy workers seek financial check-up The influx of new energy projects in the Surat Basin has had a flow-on effect for professional services firms in the region. Companies like Dalbybased accounting and financial planning firm BMO Accountants have grown rapidly over the past few years in response to a high demand for services. Senior financial planner Shane Lee said the resources boom was creating a new breed of investor. “These are generally people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are making a reasonable income. They come to see us because they are worried about getting trapped in a cycle of just making ends meet and not ‘getting ahead',” he said. “It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day living, paying the mortgage, feeding the family, running the car, school fees and expenses and some entertainment, and before you know it,

you're looking for your next pay cheque.” Mr Lee said just like you'd see your doctor for a physical check up, it's a good idea to seek professional advice from a financial planner to review your financial health and well being. "We work with our clients to help determine their financial and life goals and how we can make them happen,” he said. “Most people are really excited to discover that there are some simple ways to start building wealth for the future.” Mr Lee recommends using a firm like BMO where there is a holistic approach to your financial management. “We offer a one-stop-shop approach to financial planning and accounting. When we give advice, we look at the whole story — working closely with the BMO accounting team. We'll consider

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

any trusts or business structures you may have in place, any existing investments or rental properties, and the taxation implications of proposed investment strategies.” With interest rates rising and interesting market trends occurring, Mr Lee said there's never been a better time to review your financial situation. “A financial planner can put you in touch with a mortgage broker to find the right home loan and save you thousands of dollars, make sure you have appropriate insurances in place to support your family if something happened to you, and review your superannuation funds to ensure you are making your money work for you,” he said. At BMO Financial Services, the first consultation is complimentary. So there's nothing to lose.


LOCAL NEWS

NEWS BRIEFS

Training numbers on the rise

Part of the DISCO team... Sally Hine and Kristy Miller are helping link business, schools and Dalby youth.

A DISCO WITH A DIFFERENCE Inside the walls of an old Catholic school building in Dalby, a DISCO with a difference has been raging for the past two and half years. In this case, the mirror ball twirls with employment opportunities and the strobe lights flash information about industry, training and education. DISCO's most popular dance is the one that takes young people from school or home and into a local workplace. Since the Downs Industry Schools Co-Op (DISCO) arrived in Dalby more than two years ago, it has helped break down the barriers preventing youth becoming employed locally. The organisation is funded by state and federal government programs and is focused on assisting people aged between 13 and 24. DISCO's programs range from helping a young person get ready for work, providing them with a taste of work, arming them with the skills and knowledge necessary to enhance their career prospects or getting them employed. The DISCO Dalby manager, Wendy Ambrose, has been a part of DISCO since its inception in Dalby. She has managed the growth of DISCO from a select few programs into a comprehensive service for all young

How Dalby youth are dancing out of school or home and into employment

“It's great, you see young people transform from shy, self-doubting kids to confident young adults.” people which include; Career & Transition Program, Structured Workplace Learning Program, Adopt A School Program, Get Set for Work Program, Youth Employment Support Program and the Youth Support Coordinator Program for the Darling Downs. For the past 18 months, Kristie Miller has been the organisation's career and transition officer. Kristie said each program offered something different for participants and provided their own distinct success stories. “The Adopt-a-School Program encourages businesses to become actively involved in a schools' education program. “It links businesses and industry with schools so we can bridge that gap and helps young people become more aware of the real world of work and what is expected of them.” Kristie said. Meanwhile, the Get Set for Work program, funded by the Department of Employment

“DISCO is making local kids realise there are jobs around and there is help available to get out there, become employable and to learn about business and industry."

and Industrial Relations Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative helps early school leavers find a job or reengage in learning through individualised and tailored assistance. “It's great, you see young people transform from shy, self-doubting kids to confident young adults,” Kristie said. "They gain skills to enter employment, or they decide they want to re-engage back in to school, or enrol in further training. “Every program is different and there are really good success stories out of each of them.” DISCO does not tackle youth employment alone. Local industry and businesses have embraced the organisation's services and schools have welcomed the support. “The support that we get from business and industry, community organisations and the schools is wonderful,” Kristie said. Sally Hine is a recent school leaver who is working at DISCO, balancing dual responsibilities as a career and transition officer and administration officer. She said the organisation was critical in the way it revealed the opportunities Dalby had for young people. “When I was at school a lot of people were not aware of the opportunities available to them. And even myself, I had no idea until I worked here how many jobs and opportuni-

ties there are in Dalby,” Sally said. "This has completely opened my eyes to what is available in Dalby for school leavers. “DISCO is making local kids realise there are jobs around and there is help available to get out there, become employable and to learn about business and industry." For more information on DISCO's services, please contact the Dalby Office on (07) 4662 2147.

Queenslanders are taking up apprenticeships and traineeships at faster than the national rate, helping to meet skills shortages in critical areas. Education and Training Minister Rod Welford said Queensland recorded about 63,200 new apprentice and trainee commencements in the 12 months to September 30, 2007. The latest figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research revealed Queensland continued to out perform all other states in the take-up of apprenticeships and traineeships. The amount of people starting training programs increased by 13 per cent based on the previous year — well above the national increase of five per cent. Around 22 per cent of commencements were in traditional trade areas, many of which are experiencing chronic skills shortages. “Meeting skills shortages in trade areas in Queensland is critical to our continued economic prosperity and I am pleased that people are taking advantage of opportunities presented by apprenticeships and traineeships,” Mr Welford said. Completions in Queensland were equally impressive in the quarter ending September 30, according to Mr Welford, with around 7000 apprentices and trainees finishing their courses in Queensland. For the year, completions increased by more than nine percent to 31,000, compared with the same period in 2006. That was more than double the national increase, according to Mr Welford.

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PAGE 19


THE TOWNS

@ WORK

ON THE SURAT

The ARROW points to Dalby Arrow Energy’s three producing Surat Basin gas fields account for a large portion of the company’s 20 per cent contribution to Queensland coal seam gas production. While much of the action unfolds on the gas fields, the team of 35 bases itself from Dalby’s industrial estate. Here are some of those faces.

Swept along by Arrow’s growth Former Condamine local and bricklayer by trade, today Scott Sheehan is responsible for one of Australia’s largest onshore gas fields. When time comes to ramp up supply from what could soon be one of Australia’s largest onshore gas fields, Scott Sheahan is the man people talk to. He is production supervisor for Tipton West, a 105-well gas field feeding the nearby Braemar Power Station. Based in Dalby, Scott spends his days at the gas field, completing various tasks all aimed at keeping gas flowing. “From full production to maximising production, organising contractors, maintenance, schedules — anything to do with the general running of the gas field,” Scott said. The former b r i c k l a y e r, originally f r o m Condamine, lived in D a l b y before he went to

work with Arrow Energy. He spent 12 months as a field operator, learning about the industry from the ground up, before the expansion of Tipton West in early 2007. “Arrow expanded quite rapidly and I was lucky enough to be involved in that,” he said. “There has always been a lot of support there and, if you show the initiative, they’re willing to help you along.” Since moving into the new role, Scott has been responsible for a workforce rich in experience and enthusiasm. He is currently completing a qualified accessors course so he play more of an active role in the upskilling of the workforce. But with the onsite experience already in place, Scott admits upskilling workers does not present too much of a challenge. “We’ve got a good balance of youth and enthusiasm, as well as the experience coming from the older guys,” he said. “And a lot of fellas have worked in different situations so there is a lot of practical experience passed on to the younger ones.”

Arrow Energy’s area co-ordinator Rohan Fuller (centre) going over the day’s agenda with storeperson Janelle Henningsen and logistics, stores and supply supervisor Tim Morris.

From sea to seam Rohan Fuller spent 18 years on the docks. Today, he works on the edge of an ocean of coal seam gas. For the past 16 months, Rohan has been Arrow Energy’s area co-ordinator, based from Dalby and responsible for three Surat Basin gas fields. “It had been going for a few years but I came when they were just completing the major fields and were moving into the production side,” he said. Those fields Rohan is responsible for make up a large portion of Arrow Energy’s equity interest in more than 80,000 km² of acreage. The company’s producing projects account for around

To feature in the next @Work on the Surat, just email a photo and details to editorial@surat basin.com.au

“A good thing about Arrow is they really try and recruit from the local area — which helps everyone,” 20 per cent of Queensland’s overall gas production. In many respects, Rohan has been the face of Arrow Energy when it comes to Dalby. Many of his responsibilities centre around public relations and ensuring the company has a positive presence in the town.

Rohan’s role has been helped by Arrow Energy’s policy to recruit and purchase locally where possible — to support the community it is based from. “A good thing about Arrow is they really try and recruit from the local area — which helps everyone,” Rohan said. With an experience and enthusiastic team of 35, much of Rohan’s time is spent off-site co-ordinating contractors, and making company stakeholders feel welcome. “I think we work really well together and are playing our part in the growth of the company,” he said. “And it’s just growing all the time.”

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Coal seam gas is leading a property and development resurgence in Roma.

ROMA’S ROLLERCOASTER

Coal seam gas developments in s s i the Roma m t ’ n o D ! region have s e t a d these pushed the 2008 Editions town’s growth to will be startling new inserted into heights, Chinchilla News according to March 27, June 19, September 25 & former mayor December 18 Bruce Garvie Dalby Herald & Roma Western Star April 1, June 24, September 30 & December 23

Editorial Submissions John Farmer editorial@suratbasin.com.au Advertising Laurell Ison & Alison Zerbst advertise@suratbasin.com.au Design: Beth Walker prepress@suratbasin.com.au

PHONE 4662 7368 FAX 4662 8474

Roma’s coal seam gas boom last year pushed development in the town to record levels. Once a strong $7 million a year, Roma Town Council’s approvals topped $35 million in 2007, leaving even the most seasoned local government figures stunned. Former Roma Town Mayor Bruce Garvie spent two terms as mayor and years on council. That is on top of a lifetime in the town. He said after the “rollercoaster ride” of oil and gas over the last century, coal seam gas had brought unprecedented and sustainable growth to Roma. “Roma has absolute record growth,” Cr Garvie said. “It’s all been quite amazing since coal seam gas really hit its straps three years ago.” But negating some of the perks of prosperity has been the strain placed on council workforces and resources. Mr Garvie often uses Roma’s airport as an example of how far council’s resources have been stretched. In recent times, flights out of Roma have soared from seven a day to upwards of 17; in planes that can seat 50. “The massive growth has put a lot of pressure on council to upgrade the airport,” Cr Garvie said. “We’ve just spent just over a mil-

lion dollars on it only a couple of weeks back and there’s a lot more money to spend there. “But there’s good reason to spend it now.” The airport is critical in the roll Roma fulfils as a service centre for Surat and Bowen basin development. The town’s largest employers are the companies that service resource exploration and production, according to Cr Garvie. “That’s been the strength of Roma,” he said. “If you look back at Roma over the years it’s always been a service centre for the oil and gas industry. “But now it’s really positioned itself as a service centre for the coal bed methane and in the future you’re going to see a lot of industries developed.” Finding room to move for development is another one of Roma Regional Council’s pressing issues. Demand for housing, industrial and commercial property has seen land values rise sharply over the past two years. “We’ve seen land value absolutely go through the roof,” Cr Garvie said. “There are new valuations to be released soon. “The last time valuations were released there were huge rises and I expect huge rises again.”

Market steadies after initial explosion For most of the past two years, Roma’s real estate market was much like the initial discovery of gas in the town 100 years ago. It erupted with little warning and proved almost impossible to control. Today, prices have hit a plateau but demand remains vibrant and farspread. Rob Rosenberger was a land valuer for 23 years before opening Rosenberger Real Estate in early 2005. He went into business just before coal seam gas exploration and production reached a peak in Queensland. Many of the operations were centred on the resource-rich gas fields of Roma. House and land prices responded almost immediately, with the cost of land skyrocketing by 1000 per cent. From an average of $80,000, today a family home is selling in the vicinity of $260,00. Mr Rosenberger describes the current scene in Roma as a “buyers market”. Prices have levelled out but buyers remain on the prowl. The oversupply may reflect the land-

scape in Roma in the early 2000s, but the value of real estate has refused to step back in time. “We’re sort of back to six and a half years ago but it’s just that the prices haven’t dropped,” Mr Rosenberger said. “We’ve hit a plateau. Anything that’s right priced, there’s buyers looking. “But the buyers are astute; they look around, they know what’s happening.” Much of Roma’s strength and prosperity comes from its place as the service centre for Bowen and Surat basin development. With a surge in resource production in recent years, the demand from industry has been felt in most sectors of Roma. Most notably, in the need for industrial land. “I can’t get enough of them,” Mr Rosenberger said of the shortage in industrial sites. “Whether it’s a block of land or a shed for rent, anything that can be developed... we get enquiry on a weekly basis, if not on a daily basis.” Small business owners have also recognised the potential of Roma and

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

its surrounding industries, with demand for commercial land and property surging. And oil, gas and coal are not the only factors driving the demand, with renewed optimism in the rural sector playing its part. “If we get a run of good seasons we’ll get a good positive flow into town from the rural investors as well,” Mr Rosenberger. “They’ll be looking at buying quality homes and also commercial and industrial property, which also show good returns. “There’s hardly any little shops for sale or for lease, and if you do have a little shop there’s usually someone who wants to start a business because that’s the confidence in town at the moment.” Mr Rosenberger predicts it may not be until 2010 before the market kicks again, but that is the way Roma has always been. “ We’ll go again,” he said. “That’s what traditionally happens. “We sit and sit and sit, and plateau, and then the market takes off again.”

PAGE 21


THE TOWNS

Jane’s convenient truth How a former Sydney resident is leading a small but committed team to make Roma Regional towns greener, cleaner and more eco-friendly. Jane Evans not only wants to make Roma greener, she wants to renew Roma. As council's town development officer, Jane is helping germinate a project she hopes will grow into cleaner, greener and more eco-friendly Roma Regional towns. Inspired by An Inconvenient Truth, Jane has assembled a small but committed team from council and local environmental groups to realise Renew Roma. Across several stages, the Go Green scheme will target four areas — from more eco-friendly homes and offices, to regional recycling campaigns. “We really need a catalyst for change and Renew Roma could provide that,” Jane said. Roma Town Council endorsed the scheme in January and applied to the Blueprint for the Bush to fund stage one of the project. With the amalgamation of five councils into Roma Regional Council, a key focus of the application was in its regional approach. “We hope the scheme will play a part in the new council working together — as one united council — rather than against each other,” Jane said. But not resting there, Roma Regional Council will take a leading role in the scheme, especially when it comes to more eco-friendly offices. “If we want to be seen as a leader and not as a hypocrite we need to set the benchmark,” Jane said. “We can show the community that it can be done — that it’s not too expensive and is sustainable in the long term.” Rome Regional Council and the project team will not be alone in implementing Renew Roma, with community consultation a key priority throughout the scheme’s duration. “We're really stepping it up so we've been speaking to a lot of business owners, major retailers, schools and locals about becoming involved,”

Jane said. “Overall, the feedback has been very, very positive and the consensus is that this is long overdue.” The first sprouts of the Go Green Scheme broke ground last month when around 50 locals took part in Roma's Clean Up Australia Day. More than 145kg of rubbish was collected including what Jane describes as an “excessive” amount of plastic bags. The Renew Roma team has a head start in finding a way to eliminate many of those plastic bags due to the success of Booringa Shire’s Kool Kids Kool World ‘enviro bag’ initiative. Much of that rubbish could also be a thing of the past, with a recycling plant a long term ambition of Renew Roma. “We can currently recycle paper, glass and aluminium but we're in dire need of somewhere we can recycle plastic,” Jane said. “At the moment, our recycling facilities are very limited, and we need to find a way to recycle more and not put so much in landfills.” Jane came to Roma 18 months ago from Sydney, and admits she was shocked by the lack of recycling happening in the town. But, like the film says, by acting boldly, quickly and wisely, she is confident Renew Roma can change Roma Regional towns for the better. “It’s going to be all about creating awareness and education the community,” Jane said. “We are going to have to work hard to change the perception out there, but I’m confident we can do it.”

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PAGE 22

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008


LOCAL NEWS

Visionary gas action agenda is welcomed Federal Government taking necessary steps to unlocking Australia’s gas to liquids potential Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson’s announcement that a National Energy Security Assessment and an Action Agenda process for Gas to Liquids technology could help unlock Australia’s vast natural gas reserves, according to APPEA chief executive Belinda Robinson. “APPEA welcomes the political will expressed by the Minister to get on and clear impediments to the development of Australia’s vast natural gas reserves,” Ms Robinson said. “APPEA agrees with the Minister that gas has a major role to play in providing clean energy to offset greenhouse gas emissions. If industry targets are met, global emissions of 180 million tonnes per year could be offset by Australian natural gas. “Australia has the capacity to triple its liquid natural gas exports to 60 million tonnes over the next decade as well as support a commercially viable gas-to-liquids industry and the National Energy Security Assessment is a welcome start on the road to making that happen. “Projects on the drawing

board don’t earn income for Australia and don’t offset carbon emissions,” Ms Robinson said. As the Senate Estimates hearings heard last week, DRET testified that: “140 trillion cubic feet of gas … has been identified in Australia. Our present production rates, including domestic gas and export gas, would account for 1.5 to 1.8 trillion cubic feet”. (Source: Hansard Senate Standing Committee on Economics consideration of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism Additional Budget Estimates Pg E90, February 21 2008) “The wealth creation potential of Australia’s large gas resources will be maximised when gas flows to its highest value uses, which could include GTL as well as LNG and other applications. The increased diversification of Australia’s gas market could assist with the development of remote gas fields and the search for more gas discoveries. “A GTL industry would provide a third major market for the use of Australia’s gas resources, alongside LNG and the domestic gas market. As such, the natural gas production industry welcomes the resolve expressed today by the Minister on behalf of the Rudd Government to help commercial interests unleash the potential of Australia’s massive gas reserves.” Ms Robinson said APPEA’s Federal Budget Submission identified key drivers for realising the industry’s potential. Enhancements to both our regulatory and fiscal parameters are important elements in aiding the development of the nation’s petroleum resources.

GAS TO LIQUIDS FACTS Gas to Liquids (GTL) refers to the conversion of natural gas into high-value liquid fuels (including methanol, dimethyl ether and middle distillates), specialty chemicals and waxes. A GTL industry could provide significant economic and environmental benefits for Australia. The wealth creation potential of Australia’s large gas resources will be maximised when gas flows to its highest value uses, which could include GTL as well as LNG and other applications. The increased diversification of Australia’s gas market could assist with the development of the remote northwest gas fields and the search for more gas discoveries. GTL COULD HELP MAXIMISE WEALTH CREATION FROM GAS The production of ultra clean diesel fuel from natural gas would help to reduce the projected deficit between Australian liquids demand and production and help achieve future lower diesel emissions standards. The production of clean diesel and other GTL products would also hasten the development of Australia’s large gas resources and the conversion of those resources into wealth and jobs for the country. A THIRD MAJOR MARKET FOR AUSTRALIAN GAS GTL projects require large volumes of gas (a 100,000 barrel per day diesel plant for example would require 7.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas over 20 years)1. Hence a GTL industry would provide a third major market for the use of Australia’s gas resources, alongside of LNG and the domestic gas market. 110,000 cubic feet of gas is required to make one barrel of GTL fuel (Source: Sasol Chevron Ltd). GAS SHOULD FLOW TO HIGHEST VALUE USES National wealth creation is maximised when gas utilisation is determined by its highest value uses, that is, when decisions to invest in GTL, LNG or other gas-based processing industries are based on the relative returns to each, adjusting for variations in risk and capital requirements. Each industry should be allowed to expand until risk adjusted returns are equalised. NOT INTRODUCING INTERNAL DISTORTIONS The competition for capital for investment in all gas based industries is intense. Capital costs for LNG and GTL are immense. Policies that strengthen Australia’s competitive position as a whole against other locations for all of these types of gas industries are a high priority. In terms of the fiscal regime, Australia’s depreciation write-off periods for capital intensive industries like GTL and LNG are longer than elsewhere in the world, which places Australian producers at a competitive disadvantage.

QGC acquires a chunk of Victoria Petroleum Victoria Petroleum (Vicpet) has been advised by Queensland Gas Company Limited that QGC has acquired 19,853,134 fully paid ordinary shares in Victoria Petroleum NL (VPE) representing 7.13 per cent of shares on issue. Commenting on QGC becoming a substantial shareholder in VPE, Vicpet managing director John Kopcheff said: “Vicpet is pleased to welcome QGC as a new substantial shareholder in VPE and its investment in VPE.” QGC is Australia’s leading CSG producer with a market capitalisation of approximately $2.5 billion and in partnership with Britain’s BG Group, is evaluating the potential development of a multi-billion dollar CSGsupplied liquefied natural gas production and export facility at Gladstone in Queensland. VPE is already in joint venture with QGC as operator in one of our key CSG permits ATP 574P and looks forward to strengthening its long-standing relationship with QGC which commenced in 2001 when QGC initially farmed in to the ATP 574P Walloon Coal Measures. VPE looks forward to continuing to work closely with QGC as the operator of the ATP 574P CSG Project, and the

flow testing the initial three “Vicpet is pleased includes pilot wells and a 14 well program of and additional pilot wells as to welcome QGC as coring required to achieve commercial certification over an initial a new substantial reserve target area of 320 sq km. Don Juan CSG Project is locatshareholder in VPE ed The immediately west of Sunshine Gas Lacerta CSG Project which and its investment Ltd’s touches on the south eastern corner of the Don Juan Project area permit. in VPE.” The Lacerta Project currently has opportunity this provides VPE to benefit from QGC’s proven technical expertise in CSG development and access to QGC’s production and marketing infrastructure. Access to production and marketing infrastructure is a critical factor in adding value to VPE’s current CSG interests. A CSG development drilling program is planned to commence in ATP 574P in mid 2008, subject to joint venture approval, with a 5 well drilling program to achieve an initial CSG target certification of 50 billion cubic feet. This is in addition to the Phase 1 exploration/appraisal program currently in progress at the Don Juan Project area Joint Venture. The Don Juan Phase 1 program

certified methane gas reserves of 469 PJ (2P) to 1097 PJ (3P). Added to the CSG interests Vicpet has in the permit PL171 adjacent to ATP 574P, Vicpet is well placed with QGC as a substantial VPE shareholder of achieving its aim of making its CSG interests in the Surat Basin of Queensland a “core focus gas area” in addition to its growing exploration and production interests in the “core focus oil area” of the Cooper Basin Successful gas reserve certification by end 2008 for the Don Juan CSG Project and ATP 574P CSG Project or any successes in Vicpet’s oil exploration drilling program due to commence in April 2008 in its CooperEromanga and Bowen-Surat Basin project areas in Queensland have the potential to add significant shareholder value over the next 12 months.”

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

Older laws to be eliminated The Queensland Government is moving to repeal the special status granted to some mining companies going back to the Bjelke-Petersen Government which made them exempt from environmental protection legislation. Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Andrew McNamara, said a new Bill to be introduced to State Parliament recently would ensure nine mining sites covered for decades by special acts of Parliament comply with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Act. The Bill will amend the Environmental Protection Act 1994, the Integrated Planning Act 1997, and the Mineral Resources Act 1989 to provide a process to transition special agreement Act mines to environmental regulation under the Environmental Protection Act. Mr McNamara said the sites represent some of the largest mining operations in the State and include coal mining operations in Central Queensland, bauxite mining on Cape York Peninsula and the mining operations at Mount Isa. “The special agreement Acts are unique to each site, and cover all issues relating to the carrying out of mining activities including some environmental requirements,” Mr McNamara said. “The Acts were drafted at a time when the economic conditions were different, and when the Government of the day felt that it needed to give greater certainty to the mining companies, given the scale of capital investment the mines required. “However, over the last 50 years, the demand for minerals and the scale of mining operations has increased world wide. “Simultaneously, the community’s understanding of environmental issues has increased. “This Bill will ensure that these mines operate under the same environmental standards that apply to the other 1200 mines throughout Queensland.” The nine sites covered under the new Bill are: Mount Isa, Weipa, Peak Downs, Goonyella, Norwich Park (near Dysart), Saraji (near Moranbah), Moura, Greenvale and Ely (near Weipa). Mr McNamara said the Bill applies contemporary environmental standards without disadvantaging the mining companies. “Importantly, the Bill does not affect any other aspects of the special agreement Acts, and will not affect the right to mine,” he said. “When environmental regulation of mining was transferred to the Environmental Protection Act in 2001, the mining leases governed by the special agreement Acts were exempt from these changes. “Special agreement Act mines continued to be regulated by the Department of Mines and Energy under the existing Mineral Resources Act and the Environmental Protection Agency under the Environmental Protection Act. “They are regulated through a combination of the environmental provisions in the individual special agreement Acts, the environmental provisions that were in the Mineral Resources Act prior to 2001 and various licences and approvals that were imposed under the Environmental Protection Act as it was prior to 2001. “This Bill will simplify environmental regulation for the special agreement Act mines, reduce the administrative burden for both the mine operators and the Environmental Protection Agency, and bring these mines in line with all other mining interests in the State. “Additionally, the changes will allow these mines to access other progressive environmental measures such as progressive rehabilitation, which encourages mines to rehabilitate mined lands sooner to obtain release of financial assurance money.” Mr McNamara said the legislative changes are not retrospective, and will leave existing environmental requirements under the special agreement Acts in place until the new environmental authority takes effect.

PAGE 23


employment contacts Are we looking for you? QGC are seeking expressions of interest in the following • Accounting • Engineering • Contract Supervisors • Drilling Managers • Environmental Officers • Geologists • Mechanical Engineers • Office Administrators • Project Managers • Roustabouts • Safety Officers

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Contact Jay Wilms, PO Box 683, Chinchilla Ph: 07 4669 1288 Fx: 07 4669 1460 Mob: 0438 387 592 e-mail: jaywilms@bigpond.net.au www.suratbasindevelopments.com.au

For confidential inquiries please phone George on 0408 193 337

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

Township Internet link www.chinchilla.org.gov.au


Surat Basin News

THE PEOPLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE DINNER A glimpse into the Dalby ethanol plant

New Chinchilla local to guide Origin’s Surat Basin emergence A

PAGE 28

Drama captures imaginations More than 1100 arrive at Berwyndale South for a celebration to remember PAGE 27

Skilled labour progress How project officers in Roma, Dalby and Chinchilla are dealing with skill issues

PAGE 31

Wandoan now a boom town Wandoan has been listed as one of six new national boom towns

s Origin Energy's presence on the Western Downs grows, a new Chinchilla local will be looking to make sure that happens with the community on board. Judy Green was recently appointed as Origin's community stakeholder liaison offficer for the Darling and Western Downs area. For eight years, Judy ensured Origin's operations across Queensland were adequately equipped as a procurement supervisor based in Roma. Before that, she worked around Moura and on gas fields north-west of Roma. Today, Judy is the local face of a company taking its vast Bowen Basin experiences to new projects and areas of expansion in the Surat Basin. Notably, that includes the $780 million Darling Downs Power Station, proposed pipeline and the development of the Walloons gas field. “At the moment, as these projects begin to take shape, I'm doing a lot of liaising and negotiating with landowners,” Judy said. “But the more we become entrenched in the area, the more I'll be looking at working closely with local communities.” In 2006, Origin Energy consulted with many communities in the

region and then compiled its Maranoa Regional Plan, which focused on how the company could make a positive impact on local communities. Two major issues were raised by the community — the need to keep their young people in the country by providing good job opportunities, and keeping young drivers safe on the roads. From these, Origin implemented its community skills scholarships which, this year, will offer scholarships of up to $13,500 to seven local young people in a job of their choice (not just the oil and gas industry). It also resulted in subsidizing a driver training program for students in Years 10-12 in the Western Downs area. Based in Chinchilla and working in neighbouring communities, Judy is an invaluable asset as an interface with the community. “At present I am liaising and negotiating with landowners in relation to the proposed pipeline from Wallumbilla to Darling Downs. “I also work with landowners in the Walloons development to cooperatively manage the resources while focusing on their priorities.” Judy said. “Living locally, I will have a good understanding of when community

Judy Green, Origin’s new community stakeholder liaison officer based in Chinchilla. needs change and how to change with them. “Also, as I bring my experience at having worked and lived at various Origin gas sites, I can appreciate the local issues and will strive to make a difference in the Western Downs area.”

Australia ‘turning its back’ on biofuels Chinchilla farmer believes biofuels could be the boost the rural sector needs A Queensland farmer who spent a year travelling to 12 countries on a prestigious agricultural scholarship says the biofuels industry could be the boost many Australian rural communities are looking for. Nuffield Scholar Ronald Thompson is concerned that Australia is being left behind in the global energy market and must adjust its thinking because he strongly believes the biofuels industry has the ability to revitalise farm economies across the nation. In his report for Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars, Mr Thompson said: “In almost every country I visited, biofuels were becoming a major part of life, with farmers the big winners. Yet Australia has virtually turned its back on this industry. We're just tinkering around the edges. “To benefit the wider community we need to mandate the use of biofuels and then encourage the feed industry to follow the US and Sweden where they have set up feedlots next to biofuels factories.” The 44-year-old from Chinchilla will detail his views when he delivers the

keynote address at the Ethanol 2008 Australia Conference in Sydney from April 8 to 10. Mr Thompson has been investigating Australia's diminishing rural workforce and looking at ways

to reverse the trend. He is concerned about an ageing farming community, but believes opening up new opportunities is one way to encourage young people to get involved in farming.

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

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PAGE 25


THE TOWNS

Dalby in the business of training, upskilling and retaining Dalby manufacturers leading the way in combating the Surat Basin’s demand for skilled labour Some once saw taking on an apprentice as a liability to their business; manufacturers in Dalby have made it their business. Walsh & Ford, a family trust that later this year celebrates its 60-year anniversary, exemplifies the call to arms made by the Dalby Manufacturers Group six years ago. The group, made up of about 40 Dalby manufacturers, took up a united mantle of workplace training when one of the town's largest employers downsized.

Today, that same commitment is helping negate Australia's labour shortages and the pressures coming from the energy sector. Peter Walsh is a second generation to work at Walsh and Ford and a member of the Dalby Manufacturers Group. He employs not only two apprentices but a handful of qualified tradespeople who were among the first to benefit from the group's initiative. “The fruits of that effort back then are showing now,” Peter

Walsh and Ford’s Peter Walsh (centre) with two of the company’s current apprentices Quentin Wassell and Matt Cassidy. said. “We've got guys that basically started five or six years ago that are now fully qualified tradesmen coming on stream strongly. “That doesn't mean we need to stop training because we've the pressures of the energy boom. It's a great attraction to our staff so we have to double our efforts.” Walsh and Ford has advertised for two new apprentices and Peter holds no reservations about the introduction of new

people into the business. He said the effort of the Dalby Manufacturers Group had made for more effective and sustainable on-site training. “What you can do is breed out of your tradesmen to give you good apprentices and from these apprentices breed out of them again,” he said. “It's a unique sort of terminology but we've proven it's the only format that will work. “Employers have to invest time in their staff to get quality

and to produce quality goods. There are no ifs or buts about that.” The united front presented by Dalby manufacturers has attracted attention from both locally and across south west Queensland. Similar groups have been formed wherever industry demands suitable workers and Peter can see why. “It (the group) gives you a powerful voice — that's why it's so critical,” he said.

Making indents in the coalface of skilled labour issues Four months ago, a new skills development program started in three Surat Basin communities. This is an update on the progress made since. Project officers for the Western Downs Skills Project funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations have been engaged in two significant projects over the past weeks. The first of these was working with the Western Downs Regional Development Corporation to attract Mitsubishi workers — a forward thinking initiative that has resulted in a proactive move to address the skills shortage in the region. With the goal of attracting redundant workers from Mitsubishi Motors Australia, the Western Downs Regional Development Corporation (WDRDC) wrote a formal request for action to Tourism, Regional Development and Industry minister, Desley Boyle. In response to similar requests, the minister's office worked with Mitsubishi Motors and the Government of South Australia to organise a Jobs Expo. The expo was held at the Mitsubishi Motors site in Clovelly Park on March 6-7. Chambers across the region and project officers from the Western Downs Skills Project liaised with local employers to collate a list of job vacancies for Dalby, Chinchilla and Miles and Roma presented at the expo. Three people from the Department of Tourism, Regional Development and Industry went to South Australia for the Mitsubishi employees' jobs expo. Around 350 displaced workers attended the expo — and the Queensland contingent dealt with 200 face to face enquires and was astounded by the amount of interest by Queensland. A jobs board posted all available jobs — workers were encouraged to contact the employers directly if they wished. 48 people completed detailed expression of interest forms. Of those, 27 indicated that they would be interested in moving to south west Queensland and had skill sets matching those required of local companies. Employers are now accessing the data base to contact workers direct. The Dalby Chamber of Commerce and Industry's current president Paul Hodda is also the chair of the WDRDC board and is pleased with the result. “We have a lot to offer potential workers. Our region is booming and skills shortage is a key concern for employers across the board,” Mr Hodda said. “This is just one example of how effective a regional group can be and we look forward to working to promote the great lifestyle and working conditions we all enjoy here.” The second project is the development of a regional web portal. Project officers are working with a subcommittee of the Western Downs Regional Development Corporation to develop a web site that will promote the whole region, present the

PAGE 26

regional community with up-to-date information and provide linkages to a range of relevant existing web sites. A funding proposal is being prepared to ensure the portal show cases the local region in a collaborative rather than competitive way with existing websites. Expected commer-

cial and capability outcomes for the web portal include greater awareness of regional energy projects and increased understanding of regional capability to supply energy projects and of tendering requirements for local business. There will be greater access to labour and jobs information, improved capability to capitalise on local mining developments, establishment of crossregional alliances to leverage business opportunities and equipping communities to respond to a mining boom and achieve sustainability. The Western Downs Regional

Over 800,000 individual items of equipment covering: • Access equipment • Compaction equipment • Portable generators • Lighting towers • Air compressors and accessories • Welders • Traffic management

• Industrial shutdowns • Loaders • Forklifts • Trenchers • Aluminium scaffolding • Ladders and trestles • General small tools

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Development Corporation originated from a development group that formed in December 2006. Comprising representatives from chambers, business and industry, local government and state government, momentum has been achieved by working collaboratively to address issues that span across communities in the Surat Basin. The corporation is currently working on attracting funding to further develop its key goal of promoting investment and lifestyle, as well as increasing local training and attraction of skilled workers.


THE PEOPLE

Jock Rohan, Gary Galway, Craig White and Neil White.

Graham Winter, Michael MacNellie, Wayne McKenzie, Warwick Geisel and Chris Whibley.

Dalby Chamber of Commerce & Industry Dalby Bio-Refinery Dinner Sue Winter and Wendy Ambrose

Place: Dalby RSL Memorial Club Date: Wednesday, February 20 Photographer: John Farmer

Dinah Fraser and Margaret Holland from the Wandoan Chamber of Commerce.

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PAGE 27


THE PEOPLE

Performing at the Drama at the Gasfields are Joseph Blair, Fletch Lacey, Cecil Fisher and Gordon Landers.

Jack, Jessie and Terry Braithwaite take time out at Drama at the Gasfields with Percy Anderson.

Drama at the Gasfields Michelle and Jennifer Briggs wait for their turn on the jumping castle, one of many children’s activities on offer at Drama at the Gasfields.

Richard and Tricia Shaw and Jim Sutherland from Miles at Drama at the Gasfields for an enjoyable afternoon.

Place: Windibri Homestead Date: Saturday, March 1 Photographer: John Farmer

Helping out the Miles Apex Club and raising money for their trip to Japan are Miles State High School teacher Yuki Funamoto and students from year 8 and 9.

Steak, sausages and a good time were on offer from the Chinchilla Rotary Club at Drama at the Gasfields.

S E RV I C I N G : GAS, MINING and AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES

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Luanda Ronnfeldt, Jake and Ned Johnson, and Ella Ronnfeldt arrive at Drama at the Gasfields.

PAGE 28

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

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THE PEOPLE

Darby Morgan, Justin Horton, Kelvin Horton and Carl Bobermien waiting for their turn on the mini hot rods at Drama at the Gasfields.

The Chinchilla Lions Club had the demanding task of providing cold drinks to the 1100 people at Drama at the Gasfields.

Taking in the entertainment and drama on offer at Windibri are Roxy, Steve, Stephanie, Tiffany and Danny Bult.

Josh, Damian, Laila and Samantha Carroll make it a family day out at Drama at the Gasfields. (Photo by Scott Murray)

Brothers Dave and Jim Smith take in the atmosphere of Drama at the Gasfields.

Angus, Georga and Loclan Newitt arrive at the Windibri homestead for Drama at the Gasfields.

One of the performers that brought Drama at the Gasfields alive earlier this month.

Jessica and Cleo Gadd and Eileen Woolsey were among the 1100 people who attended Drama at the Gasfields.

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

PAGE 29


THE PEOPLE

Filling the gap post amalgamations Chinchilla based company helps ease concerns in the wake of local government amalgamations With the amalgamations now in place, business owners like Geoff Mitchell know many local residents have concerns over housing and development issues. That’s why Mr Mitchell from GMA Certification Group travels to Chinchilla to check up on his building certification business.

“I like to check up on my clients,” Mr Mitchell said. “The amalgamation will be a big issue and a lot of people are concerned they will be left without any services as far as building certifications and approvals. “But since this company works across council boundaries we’ll still be here to fill

that gap and I want to let everybody in the area know that GMA is here for them.” Mr Mitchell said that despite the amalgamation, he was happy with the development in the region and business would be conducted as usual. “We’re going to do everything we can to make people as comfortable as possible,” Mr Mitchell said. “GMA is still able to take on the same role it has had since coming to the region and we want to make sure progress doesn’t slow down due to politics.”

Allen Hassell and Geoff Mitchell from GMA Certification Group are prepared to continue offering the same building and development services despite amalgamations.

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Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008


THE PEOPLE

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rhinochinchilla@bigpond.com Proposed coal mines are making Wandoan real estate hot property.

Wandoan makes boom town list It may be predicted as a boom town, but if land is not opened up than Wandoan’s growth could come to a grinding halt Wandoan has been identified as one of Australia’s next six boom towns by a property forecasting website. Home to Xstrata’s proposed $1 billion open-cut coal mine, Wandoan was among a www.hotspotting.com.au list of emerging property hotspots “set to explode on to the national real estate scene”. Terry Ryder, director of www.hotspotting.com.au, said Australia’s boom towns have been delivering strong property price growth fuelled by major mining, resources and industrial activity. But he said it was important for property investors seeking to ride the boom town wave to get in early. “Boom towns can provide spectacular short-term growth but investors need to time their entry and exit well to benefit,” he said. “In many well-known boom towns, property prices have now risen so much that they have passed their peak and no longer represent good buying.

“By identifying the next locations to boom, investors can get a head start on the pack and position themselves now for future growth.” But Dalby Regional Cr Ian Staines warned Wandoan’s growth could be stunted if more freehold land was not made available for industrial and residential development. Currently, much of the available land in and around Wandoan has been tied up by Native Title, and real estate agents have run out of property for sale. “We’ve got to keep the pressure on State Development and the State Government to expedite the process and to release all of these areas landlocked by native title,” Cr Staines said. “It’s going to bugger up the orderly development of the town if we don’t — we’re going to have paddocks in the middle of industrial estates and the town’s going to be forced to grow around them.” Cr Staines said the critical shortage in available land in

Surat Basin NEWS Thursday 27 March 2008

Wandoan and skyrocketing prices were preventing new businesses setting up in town. “Because there is a bottle neck in the supply of land and prices are so high, those people can’t get a leg in. If someone turned up tomorrow to buy a block and set up a business, they’d be hard pressed to find one,” he said. Mr Ryder said boom towns are predominately driven by mining and resources projects, either directly in the towns or surrounding areas. He said some capital cities, such as Adelaide, can also be classified as boom towns as the economic benefits of statewide mining flowed back to the nearest city. “The most important thing for boom town property investors to realise is that it can be a roller-coaster ride, with price growth rising and falling dramatically on the fortunes of the mining operations,” he said. “No boom lasts forever, whether that be in one town, one region or country, or even globally. Investors therefore need to research the longevity of the mining activity supporting the town and also look closely at what else is underpinning the local economy. “The best bets are those towns that have several drivers of growth and a multifaceted economy encompassing mining as well as other activities such as agricultural, industrial and residential development and tourism.”

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LOCAL NEWS

Taking up low-emission challenge Australian black coal industry and government commitments to the demonstration of low-emission electricity generation technology were presenting Australia with an opportunity to assume global leadership, a Brisbane energy conference was told today. Speaking at the Queensland Energy Summit in Brisbane, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said the release of the interim report of the Garnaut Climate Change Review and a policy shift in the United States had served to strengthen international focus on Australian innovation. Professor Garnaut's prediction of 'strong expansion and prosperity' arising from the successful commercialisation of carbon capture and storage technologies was recognised by the black coal industry's creation of the voluntary COAL21 Fund in 2006. 'It is in Australia's national interest that the $1 billion commitment from the COAL21 Fund is successful in demonstrating low-emission technologies,' he told delegates. 'Professor Garnaut also makes a strong case for the public funding of the research and development needed to achieve the eventual goal of zero emissions from commercially-viable fossil fuel power generation. 'The economic implications for a country and a state with abundant supplies of energy in the form of high quality coals and expanding inventories of

“It is impossible not to reach the conclusion that the relatively small Australian economy is punching well above its weight with a funding commitment comparable with that announced by President Bush in his State of the Union address.” coal seam gas are self-evident. Australian expertise is a 100 per cent renewable resource that can be exported many times over.' Mr Roche said the United States' decision to scrap the one-off FutureGen power station project brought into sharp relief the leadership role being played by the Australia in seeking to ensure increasing global demand for electricity is met by a range of environmentally effective supply options. 'It is impossible not to reach the conclusion that the relatively small Australian economy is punching well above its weight with a funding commitment comparable with that announced by President Bush in his State of the Union

address,' Mr Roche said. The Australian coal industry, state and federal governments are committing more than $AU2 billion to the demonstration of carbon capture and storage projects from Bass Strait to central Queensland. To date, the Bush administration has announced $US2 billion for CCS projects in the USA. Mr Roche said that in the 1960s, the US Government allocated today's equivalent of $US136 billion over 13 years to the Apollo space program with the single aim of putting a man on the moon. 'In 1961, it was in the national interest of the United States of America to become

the dominant force in outer space but in 2008, the challenges of managing emissions much closer to earth are not yet seen as politically more significant in the US than energy security,' he said. 'To be realistic, the US presidential election this year is not going to won or lost on the issue of clean energy futures unless one of the candidates seeks to elevate it as being in the US national interest. 'But let’s not be too disheartened either about the potential for the United States to alter course and, as it did in the 1960s, rapidly

Training and Recruitment

accelerate new technology development.' Mr Roche reiterated QRC's view that the efficient long-term storage of carbon stripped from the combustion process in both coal and gas in power stations was a national priority demanding a national approach. 'Carbon capture and storage is not a silver bullet but it does have an important role to play as part of a broad portfolio of low emission fuels that will all be needed to service the growing global hunger for electricity.'

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QPP


SBN March 2008