Gladstone an 'LNG service centre' in Curtis Island new phase

Gladstone will develop as an "LNG service centre" as the three LNG plants begin managing their own shutdowns, according to an expert in economics.

CQ University Professor of Economics John Rolfe said ACCC's decision to allow the three LNG plants to "co-operate and be more organised" with their own shutdowns would mean more work for local suppliers, as there would be fewer delays between shutdowns.

"Having shutdowns co-ordinated so they don't occur at the same time makes it easier for local businesses to get the work -- it allows a local LNG service centre to develop more in Gladstone," he said.

But he suggested the Gladstone business community needed to be proactive in seizing the opportunity.

"I'd support some coordination between the Gladstone business community and the LNG proponents to ensure that the shutdown timetables support the local business environment," he said.

Mr Rolfe said currently there was a risk shutdowns could occur simultaneously, meaning local businesses would struggle to secure all of the contracts.

The three plants -- GLNG, APLNG, and QGLNG - are due to begin scheduling shutdowns in the second half of this year.

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Mr Rolfe also said the transition into scheduled shutdowns would create more technical jobs.

"In our region, there would be quite a lot of technical jobs available, because the shutdowns occur fairly regularly and they last for a fair amount of time," he said.

"So there would be quite a lot of work at both the technical end as well as the skill trade end for local businesses."

Curtis Island's three LNG plants made a joint submission to the ACCC requesting they be allowed to manage their own shutdowns in October last year.

"The problem before is that the gas companies weren't supposed to co-ordinate their shutdown activities because it would look as though they were colluding," he said. 

"This ruling by the ACCC … will not only be good for local businesses in the Gladstone region, but also helps to schedule any downturns in gas supply."


THE influence of the three Curtis Island LNG plants over Australia's gas supply has forced the peak industry regulator to carefully consider a request to begin managing their own shutdowns.

The ACCC has given the companies - APLNG, QCLNG, and GLNG - the go ahead to manage their own shutdowns as of the second of half of this year, but with one condition.

ACCC boss Rod Sims said the plants will need to publicly disclose any planned shutdowns.

"These LNG producers can create significant volatility in domestic gas markets when they go offline for maintenance," Mr Sims said.

"The condition allows all market participants to know when maintenance is going to be occurring and to make sure they aren't exposed to unnecessary risk."

The condition is a watered-down version of an initial proposal to make the plants release a cache of private company information, including two year projections of their gas demand and facility's capacity, which would include shutdowns.

Wholesale gas traders first raised concerns the shutdowns would give each of the LNG plants an unfair market advantage, as they would know when one of the other plants was going to shut down.

But the ACCC said the transition to allowing the companies to manage their own shutdowns is likely to save plants money.

"Coordinating maintenance schedules at these facilities will reduce the potential for costly delays and allow the LNG producers more efficiently to manage the large quantities of natural gas that flow to their facilities," Mr Sims said.

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