September 28, 2023

GEA Conference Day 1 Wrap

Lidiar Group’s Niall Callan is back in Gladstone for the Gladstone Engineering Alliance Conference and has been taking in key local projects and the first day of presentations and discussion.

“I always look forward to my trips to Gladstone, Lidiar Group has a long history with the region and every time I return, I am impressed by the development underway that will secure the region’s position as an economic, renewable energy and new minerals powerhouse,” said Niall.

“This was clear when I took the Gladstone industry bus tour on Tuesday. We visited Fisherman Landing, where we saw the extensive areas set aside for future green energy projects. We could see the impressive LNG plants on Curtis Island from the wharf. We visited the FFI Facility in Yarwun; it was amazing to see the progress they have made in such a short time. Similarly, Alpha HPA’s site is up and running, with plans for the next phase underway.”

“And the activity to support renewable energy is on another level, as you can see from the scale of the turbine waiting for transportation to the Clark Creek wind farm 150km north of Rockhampton. The trucks leave Gladstone at 11 PM nightly, and seeing logistics involved, you cannot help but be impressed by the manufacturing, engineering skill and logistical know-how on display.”

After a day of visiting key projects, Niall headed to the GEA Speakers and Sponsors Harbour Cruise, where another of Gladstone’s vital resources facilities came into view.

“LNG has long been central to Gladstone, and you can see from the scale of the facilities just how important the export of LNG to our global partners will be for revenue to Australia and to meet demand.”

On day one of the conference taking, Niall was impressed by the keynote speakers and the candid and honest way they shared their insights, past learning and future plans.

“In our industry, we often talk about learning from mistakes of the past, but how many times do we really do that and take the time to share those learnings with the rest of the industry? The presentation from Jarrod Irving and Jane Wilson from the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group stood out for me as an example of how we should share information to create best practice. They explained how their proposed location for their Hydrogen Park in Gladstone met opposition from the local community and it was refreshing to hear how open they were about the errors they made in their assumptions and what learnings they took from it. The location has now changed as a result and has the support needed to become a success.”

“This approach was supported by Patrice Brown ( President of the board of directors of GEC) quickly reminded the audience of the importance of engaging with the local businesses and community as early as possible to ensure proper consultation occurs when planning projects in the region.”

But Niall’s final highlight from day 1 was something that will either strike fear into people or create a sense of opportunity for all.

“When you look at the number of engineers needed to deliver the future pipeline of work, particularly in renewables, we can either be daunted by the number or inspired by it. At Lidiar Group, we are inspired by it, but to achieve those numbers, we are going to have to do a lot of work to ensure that engineering and infrastructure can access the people it needs to succeed. Making STEM more attractive, attracting and retaining talent from within Australia and overseas, improving workplace culture and more will all need to be factored into our industry’s recruitment strategy. While great strides have been made, ensuring we have a pipeline of world-class talent to meet our infrastructure need will define our future success,” said Niall.