BHP Billiton has announced the appointment of Pat Davies as the company’s new independent Non-Executive Director, effective June.
Mr Davies was previously the Chief Executive of Sasol Limited until his retirement in June last year, having worked in the position since 2005 where he oversaw substantial international growth.
“Pat’s appointment is a welcome addition to an already strong Board, providing additional experience in the oil and gas industry in particular. His corporate experience in the natural resources sector across a number of geographies, commodities and markets, will ensure a significant contribution to the Board,” BHP Billiton Chairman Jac Nasser said.
Leighton Contractors has been awarded a $93 million Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) contract for the temporary site facilities works at Blaydin Point, Darwin as part of the Ichthys project being developed by JKC Australia LNG.
The works will see Leighton construct temporary buildings, temporary utilities and temporary civil works.
“The successful award of this project sees Leighton Contractors’ work-in-hand for oil and gas projects reach more than $3billion. We service the gas and hydrocarbons processing sectors in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a focused effort in the areas of liquid natural gas, synthetic fuels, natural gas compression and transmission, and coal seam gas production,” Leighton Contractor’s National General Manager Oil and Gas Graem Dunn said.
The Temporary Site Facilities Works project is due for completion in March 2014.
Abigroup has won a $40 million contract by the Hunter Water Corporation to construct a new water recycling plant as part of the broader Hunter Treatment Alliance suite of works.
Abigroup will construct the Kooragang Industrial Water Scheme (LIWS), which will involve the construction of a new water reuse plant that will use the micro-filtration reverse osmosiss process.
Abigroup’s Ian Hutchinson, who is the Hunter Treatment Alliance Program Manager, said, “I’m very excited that Hunter Water Corporation Board has decided to deliver the KIWS project using the Hunter Treatment Alliance delivery model.
“We believe that the KIWS team have found the best technical and value for money solution available to Hunter Water Corporation for this type of project.”
The project includes an on-site education centre building, discharge and return water pipelines and the design, construction and commissioning of all telemetry and control systems for the scheme.
Design work is set to start in May 2012 with site mobilisation expected to commence in December 2012. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2014.
The Hunter Treatment Alliance is carrying out a $240 million five-year program of works with the Hunter Water Corporation designed to enable the region to cater for increased population growth and ensure the plants operate reliably and sustainably into the future.
The program includes the upgrade of 13 existing wastewater treatment plants in the Newcastle region. The scope of work varies for each of the wastewater treatment plants but mainly includes the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the upgraded plants.
The Australian Public Service Commission has released its snAPShot summary of employment for the calendar year to December 31, 2011.
The report shows that at 31 December there were 167,721 staff in the APS. This total comprised:
- 153,881 ongoing staff (up by 1.7% from 151,380 in December 2010)
- 13,840 non-ongoing staff (up by 13.4% from 12,205 in December 2010)
- 12,713 ongoing employees were engaged to the APS
- 10,155 ongoing employees separated from the APS
The snAPShot summary is available here.
NOPSEMA, Australia’s national independent regulator for offshore petroleum health and safety, well integrity and environmental management, has released the latest health and safety performance report for Australia’s offshore petroleum industry.
The report contains data of inspections, investigations and information collected from 35 operators and 209 facilities operating in Commonwealth waters (and relevant coastal waters) to December 2011. Health and safety categories covered in the report include injuries, complaints, investigations and enforcements.
The authoritative report identifies signs of progress in industry safety performance. For example:
• no fatalities were recorded during the reporting period (July 2010-December 2011);
• the rate of major injuries has been decreasing since 2008.
Recalling the lives lost in the BP Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 and the impact of the PTT EP Montara blowout in the Timor Sea in 2009, NOPSEMA CEO Jane Cutler warned that industry could not afford to be complacent at any stage of offshore petroleum exploration and production.
“Strong safety performance is fundamental to restoring confidence in an industry that has seen the tragic consequences of inadequate risk prevention.”
The Offshore Health and Safety Performance Report identifies design, procedures and preventive maintenance as the top three root causes of accidents and dangerous occurrences.
Ms Cutler acknowledged the role of the regulator in driving continuous improvement in minimising risks to workers, noting an increase in inspections and enforcement actions in 2011.
“From the early design stages of a facility to the end of its lifecycle, it is up to operators and industry regulators alike to be vigilant in their commitment to the safety of people working offshore.”
In the interests of sharing safety lessons for industry, the report documents 57 incidents investigated in the 18 months to 31 December 2011, including accidents involving injuries to workers and dangerous occurrences that could have caused death or serious injury.
The report reveals there were three major hydrocarbon gas releases reported in 2011.
“Uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases are of particular concern due to their potential to cause ignition. Preventing releases of this nature should continue to be a top priority for operators”, Ms Cutler said.
NOPSEMA was established in January 2012 following the Final Government Response to the Report of the Montara Commission of Inquiry (2011) and a decision to extend the health and safety remit of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) to include well integrity and environmental management. NOPSEMA superseded NOPSA as the single national regulator for offshore facilities and activities in Commonwealth waters, as well as designated coastal waters where powers have been conferred.
The Offshore Health and Safety Performance Report can be accessed at www.nopsema.gov.au
The NSW parliamentary inquiry into workers compensation, undertaken by a Joint Select Committee established on May 2, is underway.
The Committee, chaired by Robert Borsak of the Shooters and Fishers Party, will inquire into and report on:
- the performance of the Scheme in the key objectives of promoting better health outcomes and return to work outcomes for injured workers,
- the financial sustainability of the Scheme and its impact on the New South Wales economy, current and future jobs in New South Wales and the State’s competitiveness, and
- the functions and operations of the WorkCover Authority.
The Committee will also examine the WorkCover NSW Actuarial valuation of outstanding claims liability for the NSW Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer as at 31 December 2011, and the External peer review of outstanding claims liabilities of the Nominal Insurer as at 31 December 2011.
Submissions have been called for and the Committee will be holding public hearings on Monday 21st and Friday 25th May 2012.
More information is here.
Scientists have developed a new diagnostic tool that will enable better understanding of global climate patterns.
The development, by researchers from The University of Queensland, University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and Monash University, distinguishes between the causes of particles in glacial deposits – whether climactic or caused by rock avalanche – allowing for more accurate data to inform climate models.
Co-author of the study, UQ Professor James Shulmeister, says the development represents a breakthrough in the way climate change research is approached.
He says that while glaciers have been used as an early indicator of the extent and rate of global warming, there was previously an assumption that they always reflected climatic change.
“But there has been some debate on how much of the mountain glacier record represents climate change and how much relates to changes in glaciers resulting from rock avalanches onto the glaciers,” he said.
“Being able to determine whether a glacial advance is caused by a rock avalanche or by purely climatic factors enables us to ensure the climatic record from glacial deposits is accurate.
“Using this information we will be able to better understand our changing climate and inform the creation of climate models.”
The research, published in the April issue of the prestigious journal Geology, represents a major breakthrough in the fields of both landslide (rock avalanche) research and climate change from glaciers.
Lead researcher Dr Natalya Reznichenko says the cause of glacial deposits is more complex than originally thought and that some deposits that were previously identified as being of climatic origin are in fact the products of readvances triggered by the deposition of rock avalanche debris on glaciers.
“We discovered that during rock avalanches, intense fragmentation of rock generates extremely fine particles – much less than a thousandth of a millimetre across - that cluster together to form agglomerates,” she said.
“These agglomerates are completely absent from glacial deposits known to lack rock avalanche material.
“This discovery comes from long-term research on rock avalanches by my colleague Professor Tim Davies, a co-author of the paper.
“Using these particles as indicators we are able to determine whether a glacial advance is driven by climatic factors or is a result of rock avalanches.”
The results provide a diagnostic tool to identify glacial deposits that might be caused by rock avalanches from those clearly caused by climate.
“It is important to note that the presence of rock avalanche debris does not prove that a glacial deposit was the result of a rock avalanche-driven advance, but that this possibility cannot be ignored if rock avalanche material is present,” Dr Reznichenko said.
The new diagnostic tool has been tested on glacial deposits at Mt Cook in New Zealand, that have been used previously to infer past climate changes.
At least two of these have been proven to contain rock-avalanche material, and their dates are similar to those of past Alpine fault earthquakes – leading to the possibility that the rock avalanches might have been earthquake-triggered.
Unions NSW has led a delegation of injured workers to the NSW State Parliament as it launches its campaign against the State Government’s proposed cuts to WorkCover NSW.
The demonstration kicks off a combined television, radio, online and billboard advertisement blitz aimed at stopping the State Government from stemming the $4.1 billion deficit the body has accumulated.
Currently, a Parliamentary Inquiry is being held into the proposed changes to the NSW WokCover Scheme, and is due to report back on June 13.
Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said Unions across the state were dedicated to vigorously defending the rights of injured workers.
“People who have been badly injured at work are among society’s most vulnerable,” Mr Lennon said. “These are people who just wanted to do their job, but whose lives were turned upside down due to a work-related injury.
The push by Unions NSW comes after State Minister for Finance and services Greg Pearce released the results of an analysis of WorkCover which indicated the scheme is currently unviable, and that more must be done to bring premiums more into line with other states, such as Queensland and Victoria.
The issues paper released by the State Government can be found here
The Health Services Union has applied for an administrator to be appointed for its troubled east branch after Acting National President of the Health Services Union, Chris Brown, announced it would comply with the Federal Court in its ruling.
On the Union outlined the following on its website:
- All elected offices in the HSU East Branch(including Union Council) would be declared vacant;
- The HSU East Branch would be dissolved and reformed into what, prior to 24 May 2010, constituted the HSU Victoria No 1 Branch, the HSU Victoria No 3 Branch and the New South Wales Branch, with assets and income to be distributed accordingly;
- The Rules of the Health Services Union, and of the New South Wales registered union, HSUeast (NSW Union), will be altered to reflect their terms prior to the 2010 amalgamation;
- A suitably qualified person would be appointed as Administrator (of HSU East, the NSW Union, and following its dissolution and reformation, of the Victoria No 1, Victoria No 3 and New South Wales Branches of the HSU), until new office holders are elected in accordance with the Rules.
The Western Australian Government has announced an $87.7 million funding package to implement road safety measures across the state.
State Road Safety Minister Rob Johnson said the Government had carefully considered the recommendations from the Road Safety Council in developing the package, which is predominately focused on metropolitan and regional road upgrades and road law enforcement.
“A key aim will be to make our roads safer with upgrades to metropolitan intersections and roadside safety improvements to regional roads in line with our 12-year Towards Zero road safety strategy.
In State Government outlined the following spending initiatives:
- $21.6 million for safety upgrades to metropolitan intersections
- $20.1 million for regional and remote road and roadside safety improvements
- $11.4 million to reduce impaired driving including 48 new concept cars; two concept motorbikes; expanded breath and drug testing; 20 additional drug testing machines; and 20 additional officers to conduct testing, equating to an additional 36,800 hours of enforcement. Community education to reduce drink and drug driving
- $17.9 million to reduce speeding, including 27,500 hours of additional traffic enforcement; additional school crossing zone lights; and community education
- $3.4 million on improving vehicle safety; crash testing; and a study of motorcycle crashes and roadside crash barriers
- $11.6 million on community initiatives such as establishing a road trauma support service, neurotrauma research, local government programs (Roadwise), school education (Road Aware).
The Australian Industry Group (AI Group) has urged the Minimum Wage Panel to take a cautious approach to the upcoming Annual Wage Review, saying that any changes could potentially damage non-mining sectors.
"Fair Work Australia needs to be mindful of the very sharp divergences in business conditions across the country and across different sectors. The severity of conditions in trade-exposed non-mining industries such as manufacturing and tourism and in the retail sector, make these important, big-employing sectors very vulnerable to an excessive wage increase,” Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said.
AI Group have proposed the following:
- Firstly, that the Federal Minimum Wage be increased by $14.00 per week operative from 1 July 2012, with the same increase applied to award minimum wages.
- Secondly, if the Tribunal decides to grant a percentage increase instead of a flat dollar increase, the $14.00 should be converted to a percentage of the base trade rate (i.e. 2%) and that percentage applied to all classifications.
"The ACTU's proposed increase $26 per week up to the base trade level and 3.8 per cent increase for other classifications is economically unsustainable and would be damaging for the economy," Mr Willox said
Leighton Contractors have won $800 million worth in gas and water contracts in rural and regional Queensland after winning a tender issued by Australia Pacific.
The contract will see Leighton construct the $450 million gas gathering system south of Miles in Central Queensland as well as a number of water treatment facilities at Condabri Central, Talinga and Reedy Creek, with both projects expected to see 1,000 people employed.
“Partnering with Australia Pacific LNG to deliver this important infrastructure in central Queensland will bring a combination of Leighton Contractors’ world class gas and infrastructure capabilities, as well as our vast experience in environmental management and community engagement,” Craig Laslett, Managing Director of Leighton Contractors said.
The two projects will form part of Australia Pacific LNG’s multi-billion coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas export project.
Under the gas gathering system contract, Leighton Contractors’ scope of works includes the installation, reinstatement and testing of approximately 1,220km poly welded pipeline, 1,730km fibre optic and power cables, and well head equipment.
Early works for the gas gathering system will commence immediately with construction scheduled for completion mid 2015. Onsite construction activities for the water treatment facilities will commence in July 2012 and are scheduled for completion in November 2013.
The Federal Government has announced the 2012 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release, comprising of 27 areas across nine basins in waters off the coast of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
“The 2012 Acreage Release encompasses large frontier basins suited to exploration programs with numerous targets as well as smaller blocks of relinquished and highly prospective acreage in more mature areas,” Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said.
The high level of early stakeholder participation led to multiple nominations for many of these areas, which are located in a range of water depths and vary in size and exploration history.
“The available acreage is supported by data and analysis by Geoscience Australia and all exploration and development activities will be subject to comprehensive assessment.”
“Today’s Acreage Release will allow offshore petroleum explorers to seek a larger role in an energy revolution, with a high probability of ongoing major petroleum discoveries in Australia, and more than 40 sedimentary basins yet to be fully explored.”
Maps and further information on the release areas and bidding process are available at www.petroleum-acreage.gov.au
Engineers Australia has called for urgent action to help counter the ‘unbalancing effect’ of the dramatic expansion of the resources sector within Western Australia.
The group has warned that the continuing boom within the sector is destabalising the state’s economy, threatening its long-term viability.
Engineers Australia has published a report calling for a more inclusive and strategic approach, including fostering a long-term approach to innovation, developing a State-wide engineering capability plan to counter skills shortage and attracting more engineers from other States and overseas.
The report makes 14 key reccommendations as part of the group’s strategic vision to meet the State’s engineering workforce needs in 2020.
The report argues that, given the importance of engineering to the State, more must be done to ensure that the resources boom doesn’t compromise the engineering requirements of other sectors, such as that is already being experienced within the local government sector.
“While efforts are underway to graduate more engineers, WA will not produce sufficient numbers to meet the level of demand in the foreseeable future,” says Chris Fitzhardinge, a former president of the WA Division of Engineers Australia and a contributor to the report.
“The consequence of the shortages, coupled with the high Australian dollar and other factors, are causing increased costs for locally supplied engineering goods and services, loss of work to overseas countries and the postponement of projects due to a lack of economic viability”
The full report can be found here (PDF)
The Federal Government has appointed Dr Justin Lee as the country’s new Ambassador for Climate Change, after outgoing ambassador Louise Hand departs the role to take up her new appointment as High Commissioner to Canada.
Dr Lee will act as the country’s lead negotiator within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, having recently completed his appointment as High Commissioner to Bangladesh, as well as having served in a number of foreign affairs positions.
"I look forward to working with Dr Lee in steering Australia's efforts towards the realisation of a global solution to the grim reality of climate change,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Bob Carr said.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, also welcomed Dr Lee’s placement.
"Dr Lee will be at the helm of Australia's ongoing negotiations to support a robust, binding new global agreement to provide a significant outcome for global carbon markets over the short, medium and long term,” Mr Combet said.
"I am confident Dr Lee will excel in this challenging role, securing outcomes that will help efforts to tackle climate change and help establish Australia as a key player in a new global clean energy economy."
Senator Carr thanked Ms Hand for her service in the role, which she occupied since 2009.
"As Ambassador for Climate Change, High Commissioner Hand was integral to Australia's contribution to international negotiations, including the Durban outcome,' he said.
An African uranium mine owned by Australia’s Paladin Energy has stopped work for 22 hours due to strike action from its employees.
The work force at the Kayelekera site walked off in protest of the company’s refusal to grant a 66% pay increase after the country suffered a 50% devaluation to the currency.
Unscheduled plant maintenance was performed during this period. The plant is expected to operate at about 65% capacity until striking national employees return to work.
The Managing Director/CEO, Mr John Borshoff, described the industrial action as “extremely unfortunate.”
He said: “Kayelekera Mine has been producing on target. It is indeed a great pity that this excellent performance will be marred by unnecessary and illegal industrial action. While it will have some impact on the Company’s total annual production results, we do not believe this will be significant if our national employees heed the advice of Government officials and return to work on Tuesday, 15 May 2012.”
Global charity and advocacy group, Save the Children, has published its annual report into the quality of life for mothers, showing that Australia’s ranking has slipped, precipitated by a lack of quality maternity leave.
Although Australia scored seven on the overall Mothers’ Index Rankings, it had slipped several places, while New Zealand took 4th position.
The group found that Australia mothers are not faring as well as those in other western countries when comparing maternity leave and other options.
The report concluded that the Federal Government’s current maternity leave is lacking behind other countries.
"Probably one of the factors that's bringing us down the most is our paid parental leave scheme. It's recently introduced this year, 18 weeks at a flat rate," spokeswoman Nicole Cardinal told the ABC.
"That is less generous than what we see in most countries around the developed world. Norway, which came in at the top for instance, has about 36 to 46 weeks for women at almost full pay."
The Federal Government has announced that up to 400 new jobs will be created in Victoria as the National Broadband Network (NBN) is rolled out.
“Through the National Broadband Network, all Australians will access fast affordable broadband. The NBN will deliver tremendous economic benefits to Victoria and Australia through increased productivity, greater employment opportunities, and better access to information and services,” Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said.
The jobs will be generated through the $40 million investment in the NBN Co’s Clayton operations, which is expected to boost employment levels by between 300 and 400 jobs at the peak of the NBN rollout.
The Climate Commission has published a NSW specific section of its Critical Decade report, detailing the expected impacts of climate change on the state.
The report found that the state is becoming hotter and drier, with record breaking hot days having doubled since 1960, and the number of days above 30 degrees almost doubling.
The report also found that while wet periods are expected, the norm will trend towards declining rainfall, jeopardizing Sydney’s water security.
The trend towards hot and dry weather has also made the state substantially more bushfire prone, with very high fire danger days becoming more frequent.
The report found that coastal infrastructure in NSW is vulnerable to flooding from the anticipated 1.1 metre rise in sea levels by the end of the century, with between 40,000-60,000 houses, 1200 commercial buildings and a 250 kilometre stretch of highway at risk of inundation.
The Climate Commission has continued to strongly argue for the decarbonisation of the country’s economy, finding that the longer the country depends on fossil fuels the more costly it will be.
The Commission concluded that the state is well-placed to capitalise on the global trend towards clean energy, with the sector attracting $263 billion worth of investment in 2011, representing one of the fastest growing sectors in the world.
The full report can be found here (PDF)
Mr Greg Bourne has been appointed acting chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency board (ARENA).
ARENA commences on 1 July 2012 as a key component of the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future package, consolidating $3.2 billion in funding for renewable energy innovation.
The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP has also appointed Dr Brian Spalding to the ARENA board, in addition to the ex-officio appointment of Mr Drew Clarke, Secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET).
“ARENA’s independent board will have a mix of skills in renewable energy technology, business investment, commercialisation and corporate governance,” Minister Ferguson said.
“Mr Bourne and Dr Spalding’s experience and drive will ensure ARENA gets off to a good start and maintains momentum in Australia’s renewable energy sector.”
Mr Bourne brings to the board an extensive background in renewable energy development and project commercialisation, including as a former director of Carnegie Wave Energy and chief executive officer of the World Wildlife Fund Australia from 2004 to 2010.
Dr Spalding is a current Australian Energy Market Commissioner with more than 30 years’ experience in power system operations, as well as providing continuity from the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy board.
Australia is fast becoming a destination for work, as well as play, with new Tourism Research Australia (TRA) figures estimating $10 billion was spent in 2011 by business event visitors.
The Business Events Visitors 2011 snapshot shows that business travel has recovered from the Global Financial Crisis and a $1.8 billion decline in visitor expenditure in 2009.
The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, said Australia is increasingly seen as an attractive option for international business event visitors.
“Compared to 2010, international business event visitor expenditure rose by 14 per cent and international business event visitor numbers rose by eight per cent to 881,000,” Minister Ferguson said.
“International business event visitors have also spent more time in the country, an increase of 12 per cent to 14 million nights in 2011.
“This is important for the industry as the business travel market is a high-yield market, with business event travellers generally spending $100 per night more than other types of traveller,” said Mr Ferguson.