The Western Downs is part of a broader region that is on the cusp of $180 Billion energy industry emerging from the resource rich Surat Basin Energy province. The region has over 60 major projects scheduled for commissioning by 2020, creating an estimated 12,500 jobs.
Leveraging of the energy sector investment in the region will ensure long term economic growth. This includes opportunities to work with and supply projects, power station needs and the potential for new and complimentary industry and business.
Concise and up to date information on major developments in this region can be sourced through the links provided to energy sector websites or by downloading the Western Downs Regional Council 2050 Projects Factsheet. (links provided)
The Surat Basin will become one of the boom economies in Australia, challenged by only LNG regions of West Australia. Towns west of Toowoomba are going to have new wealth. Miles and Wandoan, where crops and cows are usually the serious issues are about to be overrun by multi billion dollar resources ventures that will change them forever. Recently one of the major companies making plans for this region announced two export projects worth jointly $80 billion. Britain's BG Group has signed a $60 Billion deal for a supply of LNG to a Chinese company for 20 years. Days later BG Group announced a $20 billion deal with Japanese buyers. BG Group plans to extract coal seam gas from the Surat Basin, pipe it to Gladstone, and convert it to LNG in billion-dollar processing facilities (currently under construction) and then export it from the Gladstone Port, which is undergoing currently a $3.5 billion expansion. It is not only CSG to LNG industry, but massive coal mines, huge new power stations, new rail links linking all these to export facilities.
The State Gov't has issued a licence for a 470km, $600 million natural gas pipeline from the Surat Basin to Gladstone (currently under construction). The Queensland Mines and Energy Minister says the pipeline was the first of several licences to transport gas to proposed LNG facilities. Arrow Energy will transport natural gas from CSG fields near Dalby to a proposed plant at Fisherman's Landing near Gladstone. Not all CSG will be piped to Gladstone. Qld Gas Company and BOC Group have announced plans to build a $100 million LNG plant near Chinchilla near the source of CSG. French company Areva and Qld State owned CS Energy applied for federal funding for a portion of the $200 million solar thermal generator in addition to the 750 megawatt Kohan Creek power plant near Chinchilla. Engineering contractor MacMahan Holdings says it has been awarded a three (3) year contract valued at more than $190 million to develop and operate the new Cameby coalmine in the Surat Basin in the Miles area. This contract has been awarded to Syntech Resources, and is for MacMahan to undertake all mining to Stage One (1) of the project. Xstrata is also well advanced with plans for a much bigger coalmine near Wandoan which includes building a new rail line to the coast.
"The 'simplistic mining boom is over' rhetoric is causing concern because many people don't understand what's driving the resources sector", says Terry Ryder from hotspotting.com.au.
"Essentially all that has happened is that prices for iron ore and coal have fallen off their peak. In the overall context of the resources revolution, which will extend beyond my lifetime, this is a short term phenomenon and will cause only a minor hiccup, just as the GFC was a small speed bump in the rise of the resources sector. What has happened, it has caused some mining companies to evaluate the timing of some projects. Each announcement of a downsizing or project deferral - and there have been relatively few - is seen as confirmation that the party is over.
But the upsurge in investment in the Australian Resources sector is not being driven by coal or iron ore, important though they be. The resources revolution is really about gas. The largest resources projects around Australia are all liquefied natural gas (LNG) enterprises. They dwarf anything happening in Western Australia's iron ore industry or Queensland's coal sector. Nine gas mega projects entail capital expenditure totalling $220 billion, and the general theme coming out of those venture is expansion - not contraction.
The $23 billion Australian Pacific LNG Project - one of the four giants focused on Gladstone - has its first train under construction and has just approved plans for a second train, having secured a 20 year supply contract with Japanese Company Kansai Electric Power.
Three of the four LNG projects targeted on the Surat Basin (extraction) and Gladstone (processing and export) are well under construction and the fourth is advancing steadily towards a construction start in 2013-2014. The four Gladstone ventures involve around $70 billion in capital expenditure. This is why Australia is forecast to become to world's biggest LNG producer within the next 7-8 years, overtaking Qatar, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia has reserves likely to last the next 100 years, and new discoveries are happening regularly!"