Fifty jobs to go as oil shale demo plant scales down

AROUND 50 workers will be laid off as Gladstone's oil shale demonstration plant prepares to go into care mode.

Queensland Energy Resources, which constructed the small-scale technology demonstration plant in Gladstone, has sufficient data to support the case for a commercial project.

But a smaller scale project needs close to $1 billion from investors if it is to become a reality.

QER began the two-year development program in October 2011, successfully producing high quality ultra-low sulphur diesel and aviation fuel for testing and certification.

QER chief Pearce Bowman said the 50 employees would leave progressively during the first part of next year before the facility was placed on "care and maintenance".

"I am very grateful for their efforts and achievements in demonstrating that oil shale can be developed in harmony with the community and environment," he said.

"Our plant has not only operated extremely well for more than two years, it has done so without a single complaint from the community."

He said the next phase of engineering work could be delayed for some time until the company identified an investment partner.

"We hope to find a partner who shares our view that the current Brent oil price of almost US$110 per barrel represents a reality about oil supplies that is likely to persist, in contrast to the substantial oil price decline currently assumed by global commodity markets," he said.

A QER spokesman said the company still believed the technology would be needed.

"The general analysts' view that the resource will become an important feature for Australia and Gladstone, but it could be years away."

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