BUSINESSES struggling to adjust since the peak number of cashed up fly-in fly-out workers may find some hope in the latest job projections released by Queensland Treasury.
In a series of projections based on existing operations and future projects currently in the pipeline for the Gladstone region, there is a glimmer of hope that more FIFO/drive-in drive-out workers will enter the workforce over the next five years.
However, the numbers will never reach the highs experienced during the boom, which peaked in 2014 at 6660.
Any lift is dependent on major projects like the construction of Arrow Energy's gas pipelines going ahead.
Queensland Treasury's projections were based on three scenarios.
If projection A eventuates, meaning all existing operations and projects currently under construction continue at the same rate, the FIFO work population would drop from 5430 to 670 workers by June this year.
The number of workers would stabilise at 590 by 2019 and this is the worst case out of the three projections.
In projection B, which takes into account projects that have been approved but are yet to be finalised, the projection is brighter, with the worker population falling to 1110 workers by June 2016 before increasing to 3610 by June 2018.
"The non-resident population would then decline to 1100 persons by June 2021," the report states.
For this scenario to come to fruition, Arrow Energy would need to start construction on the Arrow Surat and Arrow Bowen Pipelines, Arrow Liquefied Natural Gas plant, the expansion of the Wiggins Island Coal Terminal, as well as the Gladstone-Fitzroy Pipeline project and the Gladstone Nickel Project, which is partly owned by Clive Palmer.
The pipelines would deliver coal seam gas from Surat and Bowen to a Liquefied Natural Gas facility at Fisherman's Landing near Gladstone.
However, a spokesperson for Arrow Energy said the company was unable to comment on when these projects would start.
"Technical difficulties, as well as an environment of rising costs and falling global oil prices, led to a decision late last year to delay Arrow's Bowen development (comprising the Bowen Gas Project and the Arrow Bowen Pipeline)," she said.
"In a cost constrained environment, further work is required to underpin an economically-sound investment proposal to shareholders."
Until this work is completed Arrow will not begin construction.
In the third projection, which includes the scenarios above plus the construction of the Gladstone Steel Plant, the worker population would grow from 1290 in June this year to 4340 workers by June 2018.
The Perth-based company which plans to build the steel plant, Boulder Steel Limited, did not return this paper's calls.
It is turbulent times for the small businesses who rely on the workforce from the major projects.
But those who hang tough may reap the benefits if the projections turn out to be accurate.
Projects in the pipeline
- Two Arrow Energy gas pipeline projects
- Two expansion stages of WICET
- The Gladstone Nickel Project
- The Gladstone Steel Plant Project