Methane Rita Andrea takes first shipload of CSG

THE first shipload of coal seam gas is being loaded in Gladstone. At the same time, anti-coal seam gas activists are reminding the public that they believe the industry's production phase will see domestic prices skyrocket and investment in country towns end.

British Gas owns QGC and announced the ship Methane Rita Andrea had begun loading on Sunday and Queensland Acting Premier Tim Nicholls visited it yesterday.

Mr Nicholls said the industry would be "vitally important" for Queensland.

"It will have huge benefits for the state's economy; boosting export income, creating ongoing jobs and at peak capacity approximately $500 million a year in royalties for Queensland," Mr Nicholls said.

The second ship loaded will be the Methane Mickie Harper that QGC expects in Gladstone next week for the QGC-run Queensland Curtis Island Liquid Natural Gas project.

"The start-up of QCLNG is testament to the hard work, skill and dedication of all our employees, partners and customers, including the thousands of individuals who have been involved in physically building the plant," project executive chairman Andrew Gould said.

But anti-gas campaigner Drew Hutton said the end of the gas construction phase meant Queensland would see the industry's downsides.

"What this means is Australians, and particularly Queenslanders, are going to see the costs as well as the benefits of this industry," Mr Hutton said.

"For the past few years people in rural towns would have seen the best of the gas companies. They've been employing people and spending money in towns.

"Now with construction ending, employment will go down to 10% of what it has been, gas prices will skyrocket to international levels and gas money will stop being spent in country towns."

But industry body Queensland Resources Council applauded the milestone with chief Michael Roche saying it was a "new chapter" for Queensland.

"This milestone marks the start of decades of prosperity for Queensland regions while providing a $600 million annual boost to the state's royalty revenues to fund essential services for Queenslanders," Mr Roche said. - APN NEWSDESK