CHEERS: Guests gather at the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise evening in Chinchilla on Wednesday. Tony de Mari (BOC), Peter Dewhurst (ELGAS), WDRC Mayor Paul McVeigh and Joe Calleja (Keating Brothers).
CHEERS: Guests gather at the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise evening in Chinchilla on Wednesday. Tony de Mari (BOC), Peter Dewhurst (ELGAS), WDRC Mayor Paul McVeigh and Joe Calleja (Keating Brothers). Madison Watt

Western Downs business event highlights region's potential

THE region's biggest players in business and energy production gathered in Chinchilla last night for the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise event.

Close to 100 people were in attendance, with representatives from APPEA, Senex Energy, AGL, Santos and Elgas, as well as Western Downs mayor Paul McVeigh and councillors Andrew Smith, Donna Ashusrt, Kay McGuire and Peter Saxelby.

The networking event gave attendees a chance to hear more about opportunities for businesses in the Western Downs region.

Mayor Paul McVeigh welcomed guests and spoke about the current and future projects in the region.

"At the moment council has approved $5.5 billion worth of renewables in this region," Cr McVeigh said.

"We have $1.2 billion of that $5.5 under construction here and now and that's the APA's solar operation in Kogan and also AGL's wind farm at Cooper's Gap.

"It's a pretty exciting time, there's going to be a lot of opportunity to be able to get involved in that construction and it's ongoing construction for many, many years to come.

"We have the capacity and the existing infrastructure to attract and service big operations in the energy sector and we have actually proven that we do have this capacity.

"The Equis Energy solar farm that's been approved at Wandoan, it's one gigawatt, that's a 1000 megawatt solar farm there, it's the largest approved solar farm on the southern hemisphere.

"We do want to be a council that delivers back into our community."

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association's Queensland director Rhys Turner complemented the WDRC for "being agnostic to energy", talking about the varying and unique energy production operations seen in the region, particularly in regards to gas.

"We are in the epicentre of something that's not really happening anywhere else in the world and that is large scale on shore gas production being scaled up for LNG and export, it's not happening anywhere at the size it's happened here," Mr Turner said.

"It's important to note that the industry has really stepped up to the plate, it has fulfilled its export obligations to bring more gas to market as well, and that can only mean two things, more local jobs and more local investment."

Santos Maranoa regional manager Andrew Snars mentioned the Scotia Project in Wandoan and said "it's only natural that an expansion would take place".

"It's pretty well completed now," he said.

"We should be wrapping up in the next few weeks."

News of the Northern Territory Government's decision to lift a moratorium on fracking was welcomed by guests, with some hoping a similar moratorium on fracking in Victoria will also be lifted in 2020.

"We've proven time and time again we don't pollute," Bridgeport Energy Limited CEO Chris Way said.

"It's disappointing to see what Victoria's doing."

Overall, the evening was deemed a success by organisers, with TSBE acting CEO Stacey Burrell thrilled with the turn out.

"Support and interest from our members and the wider community was fantastic with nearly 200 delegates taking part in the two-day event in Chinchilla," Ms Burrell said.

"Our TSBE Enterprise Evenings provide immediate economic benefits to our region a great example is two Chinchilla hotels were completely booked out as delegates opted to spend a night to take part in the site tours on day two.

"This was also the first time TSBE had offered tours to Talinga Water Treatment Facility and BOC Micro LNG plant.

"More than 50 delegates joined these tours for a rare insight into these world-class facilities."