The Queensland government has given the green light for construction of a $15 billion liquefied natural gas plant off the state’s central coast.

In his latest announcement, Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney has announced that Queensland Coordinator General had approved Arrow CSG (Australia) Pty Ltd’s $15 billion Arrow LNG Plant on Curtis Island near Gladstone.

Seeney says the decision represents an important part of the progression of the massive project, which would generate around 3,500 jobs during construction and 450 jobs operational jobs during phase one, increasing to 600 during phase two.

“While Arrow still has some work to do, with financial close and CSG supply components to be finalised, it certainly reinforces Curtis Island and Gladstone as the Pacific LNG hub” Seeney says, adding that around 10,148 people including 7,600 tradespeople are current working on a range of Curtis Island projects, which in addition to Arrow’s project include the Queensland Curtis Island LNG Project and the Australia Pacific LNG Project – both worth tens of billions of dollars.

Formerly known as the Shell Australia Project, the new facility will be supplied with coal seam gas (CSG) from Arrow’s reserves located in the Surat and Bowen Basins respectively, which it will convert into LNG in preparation for export.

Once operational, the liquefaction facility will produce up to 18 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of LNG and includes the phased construction of up to four trains or processing plants on its Curtis Island site. Stage 1 includes the construction of two trains of around 4mtpa of LNG each on the Arrow site.

In addition to the processing facilities (see video), other construction works will include a six kilometer tunnel to transport gas and other utilities from the Gladstone mainland to Curtis Island, jetties and marine facilities both on the island on the mainland and an LNG carrier terminal on the island.

The plant is also supported by a dredging program being managed by the Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) which will extend shipping lanes to berth pockets and develop swing basins for LNG carriers to load and manoeuvre, as well as some potential localised drilling at marine facilities.

Development of the Arrow project and similar projects, however, are controversial from an environmental viewpoint over fears about potential impacts of CSG upon local groundwater and other impacts as well as concerns about the impact of dredging operations, greater development and shipping operations on marine life and the Great Barrier Reef.

Seeney says the Coordinator General’s assessment included management of hazardous materials, project transport, including transportation of workers to Curtis Island, impacts on coastal water quality and marine flora and fauna.

The new facility still has to be approved by the federal government, which now has 30 business days to consider impacts to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.