200 job losses could be in the pipeline
THE future of 200 workers hangs in the balance after Queensland gas pipeline company iPipe hit the skids owing creditors about $19 million.
The company, which constructs and maintains gas pipelines across the state, was placed in administration last month owing money to more than 200 unsecured creditors including the Australian Taxation Office and subcontractors.
Administrators Ernst and Young say they are hopeful the seven-year-old business can be salvaged after fielding more than a dozen expressions of interest from potential buyers. EY associate director Michael Lawless said the company's doors were open and workers remained employed while a buyer was sought.
"There has been significant interest (in the business)," Mr Lawless said.
"We undertook an urgent assessment of their financial position and decided to continue to trade."
Much of the company's work was concentrated on the gas fields of the Surat Basin, where the impact of a boom in gas pipeline construction has waned in recent years.
However, iPipe had won a number of pipeline maintenance projects, including with QGC and Origin, in the past year.
It had partnered with the University of Queensland to improve coal seam gas extraction.
Expressions of interest for the business end tomorrow and EY said was hoped to have binding offers within a fortnight.
Mr Lawless said there may be expressions to buy "certain assets" and not the business as a whole.
"Over the weekend and early next week we will go through those (expressions of interest) and make a short list," he said.
More than 1400 companies in the state's embattled construction sector have entered administration in the past five years, including Cullen Group, CRCG-Rimfire and Trac.
Century-old Ipswich brickmaker Claypave was put into administration last month, blaming a downturn in building activity that meant fewer orders for its products.
Registered as a company in 2012, iPipe, has offices at Eagle Farm and in Chinchilla.
Veteran pipeline industry executive Jamie Gabb, who was appointed CEO of subsidiary iPipe Services last October, had said the company was "facing a challenging period of suppressed growth in the oil and gas sector."