Swanbank workers to stay until December

UNCERTAIN TIME: Swanbank Power Station workers at a past meeting to discuss the future of the plant.
UNCERTAIN TIME: Swanbank Power Station workers at a past meeting to discuss the future of the plant. File

SWANBANK power station workers have been thrown a lifeline until December as their jobs still face the axe.

About 20 Ipswich jobs were to be axed this week with 10 remaining on site as the gas-fired Swanbank E power station was put in cold storage.

A spokesman for Stanwell Corporation said an abundance of fuel had made the station profitable and the corporation decided to extend operations for a further two months before withdrawing Swanbank E.

The spokesman said there were no forced job losses with 20 staff already accepting voluntary redundancies, which would now come into effect on December 1.

In February, chief executive officer Richard Van Breda announced Stanwell would withdraw the 385 MW Swanbank E Power Station from service for up to three years. Stanwell will sell the gas into the market rather than use it to generate electricity at the power station.

Electrical Trades Union state organiser Jason Young said members were happy to receive extra cash before their jobs disappeared but the instability was not fair on workers.

"I would be surprised if they take (Swanbank E) out of storage after three years," Mr Young said.

"There's no reversal on the announcement made in February.

"The result whether it is now or December is jobs and history gone from Ipswich."

In February, Mr Van Breda cited subdued market conditions and increasing gas prices for the decision to withdraw the plant.

"Stanwell can earn more revenue from selling our gas rather than using it in electricity generation," he said at the time.

"Stanwell is a commercial entity, operating in a highly competitive electricity market, and we need to pursue strategies that deliver the best return for our shareholders; the people of Queensland."

With new gas projects in the north, an oversupply of gas has made the fuel more affordable for electricity generation.

Stanwell planned to replace electricity generation at Swanbank E by returning a generating unit at Tarong Power Station to service.

Stanwell withdrew two units at Tarong Power Station from service in October and December 2012 as a result of subdued wholesale electricity prices.

Topics:  electrical trades union job losses redundancies stanwell corporation swanbank power station

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