As the Curtis Island LNG projects move into production and gradually decrease construction staff requirements, local workers can look forward to employment on the proposed oil refinery.

However, local union representatives say the new project can be staffed by locals without any need for FIFO workers.

It’s anticipated the petroleum and diesel plant will call for a construction staff of 1000 workers, leading to 300 full-time positions during production.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Phil Golby told the Gladstone Observer that another FIFO workforce would unnecessary in the face of local expertise, and result in disadvantages for younger workers.

“FIFO robs us of training opportunities for new apprentices and that’s something we need to replace the old workforce as people retire,” he said.

Brisbane businessman and project leader Duncan Mackenzie said he agreed with Golby.

“It’s going to be a Gladstone company and we want Gladstone people,” Mackenzie said.

“There is a definite preference for hiring from the local workforce from both an operational and efficiency perspective.

“When construction is finished there’s no debate about it – the operational workforce will have to reside locally.”

MacKenzie has brought together a joint venture with US Eagle Ford Oil and Gas Corporation (ECCE) and Australian based Caspar Energy to finance the $700 million refinery which will fill the market gap left by closure of the BP Bulwer Island refinery.

The new refinery is expected to be capable of producing 43,000 barrels of highly refined products per day, including low sulphur diesel and premium petroleum.

ECCE chairman Johannes Roux said this would be the first refinery built in Australia in 50 years.

Construction is expected to begin after 18 months of approvals processes.