Plans are being drawn up to build Australia’s first major oil refinery in 50 years in central Queensland.

The United States based Eagle Ford Oil and Gas Corporation and Australia’s Casper Energy will jointly develop the $700 million project near Gladstone.

Initially the refinery would produce 43,500 barrels a day, turning crude oil into high quality diesel and premium gasoline.

The companies said it will help produce a secure fuel industry for Australia and price competitiveness.

In 2014 about 60 per cent of all liquid fuels consumed in Australia were imported, the companies said in statement.

“In the very near future Australia is expected to have only four of an original eight oil refineries with a combined capacity of only 490,000 barrels per day versus demand of over 1.25 million barrels per day,” the companies said.

“Diversity in crude processing capability reduces the likelihood of exposure to risk of supply interruptions due to economic and political volatility in world markets.”

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers said the refinery would buoy the town’s employment as the construction of liquefied natural gas plants on Curtis Island wound down.

The project could create 1,000 construction jobs and 300 operational positions.

“This is an amazing project and just what Gladstone needs, another little boost for us,” she said.

Concerns over oil spill on reef

Capricorn Conservation Council’s Michael McCabe said shipping oil through the Great Barrier Reef is more risky than gas or coal.

“If you have an oil bulk tanker founder in Gladstone Harbour or on the reefs outside Gladstone, that would be absolutely devastating to the already declining state of the southern Great Barrier Reef,” Mr McCabe said.

Casper Energy’s Duncan Mackenzie said they would take steps to minimise the risk.

“The infrastructure at Gladstone works within existing, established shipping boundaries and practices,” he said.

“It’s fair to say in our planning that net shipping movement through the reef of existing petroleum vessels would be reduced.”

Extracted in full from ABC.