FIFO/DIDO workers flock to the Western Downs: Energy Capital of Queensland

The number of non-resident workers in the Western Downs swelled by a massive 273% in just a two year period following the emergence of the region as the Energy Capital of Queensland.

According to the latest non–resident population projections released by the Queensland Government, the non-resident population of the whole of the Surat Basin reached 12,480 persons in June 2013, with the Western Downs alone accounting for 7,490 persons.

The Surat Basin non–resident population projections report, 2014 to 2020 revealed that seven existing gas and coal operations within the Western Downs accounted for the majority of resource industry activity in the Basin.

In the two-year period from 2011 and 2013, the non-resident population of the Western Downs grew by 5,480 persons, largely due to the FIFO/DIDO construction workforces of the APLNG and QCLNG projects.

As construction of these CSG projects peaks in 2014, the non-resident population of the Western Downs is expected to approach 8,000 persons before falling to between 5,380 and 5,520 persons by 2015.

The non–resident population projections report presents four projection series, based on information provided by industry regarding existing operations and future projects.

The Series A projection covers all existing operations plus projects that have passed final investment decision (FID).

Under this projection, the non-resident population of the Western Downs will fall to 3,080 persons in 2016, then remain at around 3,000 persons over the period to 2020.

In addition to ongoing resource industry operations and the two CSG projects under construction, Series A also takes into consideration the non–resident construction workforces of the Woleebee Creek to Glebe Weir water pipeline and Kogan Creek Solar Boost project

The Series B projection, which factors in the impacts of projects that have been approved but are yet to reach FID, delivers a less steep decline in the number of non-resident workers on-shift from 2015, with a small increase in 2018.

This series largely reflects the workforces of Arrow LNG’s proposed Surat gas and pipeline projects, as well as the Braemar 3 Power Station and Powerlink substation construction project.

Under this scenario, the non-resident population of the Western Downs is projected to decline to 3,970 by 2016, then rise to 4810 by 2018 before falling to 4,210 by 2020.

The Series C projection includes consideration of projects that have yet to finalise an EIS process, while the Series D projection reflects the added influence of projects that have yet to enter the EIS process.

Both of these series follow a similar trajectory to Series B, but include the additional impacts of the Nathan Dam to Dalby Pipeline and Powerlink transmission project (Series C) and the GLNG gas fields development, Ironbark, and Powerlink transmission network extension projects (Series D).

The non-resident population projections report also noted that further development of the Surat Basin’s coal industry was uncertain in early 2014, with FID on the region’s first large scale mine (Glencore Xstrata’s Wandoan Coal project) delayed indefinitely.

In addition FID has been delayed indefinitely for the proposed Surat Basin Rail project, which would enable large scale exports of coal from the Surat Basin through the Port of Gladstone.

A number of other coal projects in the Western Downs that would be dependent on this rail infrastructure continue to progress through the EIS process, although their timeframes are now uncertain.

Read more Basin non–resident population projections report, 2014 to 2020.


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