Diversification on show

9. Surat-truckBy Emma Brown

June 4, 2015

SOUTHERN Queensland’s Surat Basin is an established hub of oil and gas activity and, as projects enter the production stage and infrastructure ramps up to support it, the region is set to soar.

The Surat Basin Energy and Mining Expo, now in its fifth year, is diversifying to reflect this recent economic development.

Australian Events director of corporate development Greg Johnson said the expo has come a long way since the beginning.

“In the beginning it focussed solely on the richness of the resources in the Surat Basin area, which has been recognised as having a long life in terms of productivity for the oil and gas industry,” Mr Johnson said.

“In December 2014 the first coal seam gas (CSG) arrived at Curtis Island in Gladstone. This milestone is one of several pipelines that are inching their way from the Surat Basin to Gladstone.”

Some of the big players in the area include Arrow, Santos, QFC and Origin.

“The Surat Basin is home to some exciting long-term resources that offered unlimited employment and investment that will stimulate the economy over a long period of time.”

Since the expo made its debut in 2010, the Surat Basin has undergone a massive transformation as a result of the CSG industry; major infrastructure has been established to support the emerging industry. This includes the international jet capable Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport at Toowoomba, the upgrade of the Warrego Highway and the $5 billion redevelopment of the Toowoomba CBD, the Toowoomba regional council’s approval of the development of a $1 billion solar farm and the state government’s approval of the New Acland coal mine.

“All of these exciting long-term resources have coincidently sprung out [of] the CSG; it’s had a lot of spinoff effects throughout the region,” he said.

Mr Johnson said all the recent developments will be covered at the Surat Basin Energy and Mining Expo, held at Toowoomba Showgrounds from 17 to 18 June.

“The expo will not only cover the CSG but the diversification that has taken place in the region.

“The fortunate place the Surat Basin and Toowoomba finds itself in is having a diversified economic base rather than a single economic base, so that’s something the expo will be concentrating on.”

The venue will cater to both indoor and outdoor exhibitors, who will display the latest innovative technologies, equipment and machinery.

“The expo is a great platform to network; we’ll have hundreds of exhibitors as well as [those] who have new inventions, technology and better ways of doing things now than previously.”

On the eve of the expo, the Maranoa Regional Council Industry Forum will take place on 16 June.  BIS Shrapnel senior manager, infrastructure and mining Adrian Hart will be guest speaker at this year’s forum.

Mr Hart was lead-author on the recent Major Projects Report that highlighted the outlook for major engineering projects in Queensland and what it entails for both contractors and government.

“The report identified that the Surat Basin was likely to find itself in the situation of having a boom in the next five years – unlike anything ever seen before in the area,” Mr Johnson said.

“We look forward to finding out the rationale for his predictions.”

The forum is open to exhibitors, delegates and guests at $100 per person.

In an expo first, the GasFields Commission Queensland will be taking part.

“Having the GasFields Commission come to us and ask if they could be involved in a substantial way provides confidence in both this event and the Surat Basin region,” Mr Johnson said.

“The commission will engage senior people from the four CGS enterprises as well as major contractors and they will be rostered on throughout the two-day event.

“They will talk with local businesses to educate them on how they can be part of the supply chain.”

Mr Johnson said while agricultural shows are prevalent in the Toowoomba area, the Surat Basin Energy & Mining Expo is the only one of its kind in the area, so it attracts a lot of attention.

“We have people attend from all over Australian and internationally, even from places you don’t expect like Ghana and Jamaica,” he said.

“I’d be surprised if we don’t get some from more than 20 countries.”

Mr Johnson said he was confident the recent economic downturn in the industry wouldn’t have a negative effect on the number of attendees.

“It’s a free event that offers a lot of opportunity, excitement and networking opportunities for people,” he said.

“Everyone needs to be aware of what is occurring and this certainly is the best forum to achieve that.”

Although Mr Johnson confessed attendance was always hard to estimate, he said the expo was coming together really well.

“Based on last year’s numbers he was expecting around 6000 attendees.”

The event is free for those that register online and people who turn up on the day will have to pay a $10 administration fee.