Biofuels plant could be 10 times bigger with double the number of jobs
"THE petrol station of the US Navy."
This could be the prospect for Gladstone in the future after Australia's first biofuels pilot plant, was officially opened at Yarwun yesterday by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
The plant converts waste products like tyres, macadamia husks, sugar cane and green waste into biofuel.
Ms Palaszczuk said having signed the only memorandum of understanding with the US Navy for their green fleet, Queensland and Gladstone "were on the cusp" of creating a billion dollar industry.
Southern Oil and J.J. Richards and Sons are behind the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant.
Southern Oil managing director Tim Rose said the green fleet initiative was exciting for the business.
"They've got a brief to convert half of their naval fleet fuel use to green sources," he said.
"Obviously they do a lot of sailing over this part of the world, and there's nothing available to them, so this is a great opportunity for them.
"It's really a great confluence of events to bring this to fruition."
WATCH | Annastacia Palaszczuk opens Australia's first biofuels plant in Gladstone
Mr Rose said they had been in discussions with Qantas and Virgin about supplying them with biofuel.
Gladstone Regional Council mayor Matt Burnett said this was a "game-changer". "We're more than happy to be the petrol station or fuel station for the US Navy, any navy for that matter, our own navy of course," he said.
The plant currently employs about 40 people but this could sky-rocket in future.
At the moment, the facility is just a pilot plant, but Mr Rose said if everything went well, it could be expanded to a commercial facility within three years.
"This (the pilot plant) is really to proof up the commercials for us... once we've proven the commercials then we'll go to big scale," he said.
"The refinery that we plan to build here will be at least 200 million litres a year (of biofuel), this one is about 20. We plan to go at least 10 times the size; it's probably going to be bigger than that again."
Mr Rose said the decision to expand could be made within 12-18 months, and construction on a proper refinery would take 18 months.
Jobs continues to be a major issue locally, and Mr Rose said if everything went to plan, job numbers would at least double with a commercial plant.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said anything could happen in the biofuels space in Gladstone. "We have a wonderful area here, the Gladstone Industrial Estate, we can taken any business," he said.