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Briefcase: SA business snippets

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Welcome to Briefcase, a quick tour of announcements, awards and events showcasing the everyday exploits of SA businesses.

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Improving oil and gas prices drive Cooper Energy recovery

Rising oil and gas prices and increased production and sales volumes have helped Cooper Energy deliver a 24 per cent increase in revenue for the first half of the 2021 financial year.

The Adelaide-based company reported to the Australian Securities Exchange last week sales of $48.6 million from July 1 to December 31, up 24 per cent on the same period last year.

It coincided with a 76 per cent increase in production for the half to a record 1.16 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) and an increase in sales volumes of 86 per cent to 1.21 mmboe.

The company’s average realised gas price was up 29 per cent to $7.25/GJ for the December quarter compared with the previous quarter and the average realised oil and condensate price was up 28 per cent to $69.7/boe.

Cooper Energy managing director David Maxwell said the company’s performance during the quarter demonstrated its maturing gas business.

He said higher gas sales volumes and net cash margins will be generated from its Sole Gas Project in Victoria’s Gippsland Basin in the second half of FY21.

“We have commenced supply of material gas volumes to domestic customers under long-term Sole gas sales agreements and established our gas trading function to support these contractual commitments,” Maxwell said.

“We believe exploration and development of gas resources in the Otway and Gippsland basins is the most efficient way to increase supply to southern markets.”

Sole gas is processed at the Orbost Gas Plant, which is operated by APA Group. The plant has recently been reconfigured with production expected to increase to a sustainable rate of 45 TJ/day.

Controversial KI port proposal open for public comment

A long-awaited decision on Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers’ proposed seaport at Smith Bay is nearing following the release of the second addendum to the Environmental Impact Statement for public consultation.

The publication of the KIPT report on state government website PlanSA on January 14 triggered a four-week public consultation period until February 12. This includes a public information session at the Kingscote Town Hall and Council Chambers tomorrow from 10am to 3pm.

The proposed port, at Smith Bay about 20km west of Kingscote on the island’s north coast, has been declared a major project and is still awaiting a final decision from the State Government.

The company says the port will be crucial to ship 4.5 million tonnes of bushfire-affected timber that could still be salvaged and sold before it begins to rot.

KIPT has estimated it has a window of about two years before its burnt softwood pine trees rotted while the hardwood blue gums could potentially last up to five years.

In a statement to the Australia Securities Exchange on January 18, KIPT chairman Paul McKenzie urged the State Government to “bring the almost four-year development assessment process to a timely and favourable conclusion”.

In December, KIPT announced it had won a $5.5 million Federal Government grant to support the development of a wood pellet plant at the company’s disused Timber Creek sawmill site.

The plant would allow fire-damaged logs that could not be sold into export markets to be converted into wood pellets and sold as a carbon-neutral fuel for power generation.

The pellets will be exported from the proposed Smith Bay port.

In September KIPT announced it had signed Early Contractor Involvement Agreement (ECI) with Port Adelaide-based Maritime Constructions and other partners, including global leading civil and maritime construction companies KBR and WGA.

KIPT has also begun salvage harvesting of blue gums and pine trees growing close to 48km of powerlines throughout its plantations. The first few rows of trees adjacent to the power lines are being cut and laid down in the plantation for collection at a later time.

Yumbah Aquaculture has been in Smith Bay for more than 20 years and grows green lip abalone predominantly for export.

It has been a vocal opponent of the KIPT port proposal, claiming its environmental impact risked ruining Yumbah’s business.

Adelaide in running to host major space conference again

Adelaide is bidding to host the world’s largest meeting of space industry heavyweights in 2024, seven years after the 2017 International Astronautical Congress helped put South Australia at the centre of the nation’s space industry.

The same team that won the 2017 conference for Adelaide is pitching to again host the major congress in Adelaide, South Australia.

Space lawyer Michael Davis and adjunct professor Nicola Sasanelli, who both drove the 2017 bid, are chair and CEO respectively of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation, which they formed last year to further the space industry in Australia.

Davis said they were using the foundation – named after Australia’s first astronaut – as a platform to bid for the congress because a goal of the foundation is to “promote national education and outreach programs and to conduct major space-related forums”.

The 2017 IAC was lauded as a success and was credited for being the impetus behind the establishment of the Australian Space Agency.

The congress, attended by 4470 delegates, also featured Elon Musk outlining his “BFR” plans for supersonic travel and a launch to Mars.

“The 2017 Congress inspired impressive growth in the Australian space sector, including the establishment of the Australian Space Agency, the SmartSat CRC and the Andy Thomas Space Foundation, all headquartered in Adelaide,” Sasanelli said.

“A congress in 2024 will be a great boost to the goal of the Australian Space Agency to grow the number of jobs in the national space industry to 30,000 by 2030.”

Davis said the opportunity to host the five-day 2024 IAC was also due to Australia’s thriving space sector, international regard for Adelaide’s COVID-19 response, and Adelaide’s low- density lifestyle.

The pair is being supported by the Adelaide Convention Bureau, which successfully bid for the 2017 event, and its chief executive Damien Kitto.

“We showed the world and some fierce competitors – including Washington, Bremen and Istanbul – just what an amazing destination Adelaide was when we hosted the highly successful 2017 Congress; now we intend to do so again – only better,” Kitto said.

Adelaide will go up against Milan and Budapest in the six-stage bidding process before the host city is announced at the 2021 IAC in Dubai in late October.

Mithril raises $5 million for Mexican exploration

Explorer Mithril Resources has received firm commitments for $5 million share placement to fund its ongoing gold and silver exploration in Mexico.

In the placement conducted by Taylor Collison in late January, Adelaide-based Mithril received binding commitments for a placement to investors comprising 263,157,895 fully paid ordinary shares in the company at an issue price of 1.9 cents to raise approximately $5m before costs.

Funds raised will be used to continue the 2021 drill programme in the Copalquin Gold Silver District in Mexico.

Mithril managing director and CEO John Skeet said the successful 2020 maiden drill program had provided the El Refugio discovery in the region and the technical basis to test and expand the extents of the high-grade gold and silver mineralisation there.

“I thank all participants for their continued support and we look forward to reporting news of our exploration work in the district over the coming months and providing a maiden resource later in the year,” he said in a release to the Australian Securities Exchange last week.

The Copalquin mining district is located in Durango State, along the western side of Mexico and contains several dozen historic gold and silver mines and workings, 10 of which had notable production.

OTR and St John install 50th defibrillator

Fifty publicly accessible defibrillators have been installed in OTR regional and city service stations and stores – the most recent of which was in Aberfoyle Park – through a partnership between OTR and St John Ambulance SA.

A statement from OTR said all of the defibrillators were being registered with SA Ambulance Service, in a bid to direct triple zero callers to the nearest device in the event of an emergency.

It comes as the Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill 2020 is before parliament. The Bill seeks to increase the installation of the life-saving devices throughout the state.

If passed, public access defibrillators would become mandatory in a wide variety of public buildings, facilities and vehicles, further contributing to improved outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest in South Australia.

In a statement, St John Ambulance SA CEO Mark Groote said having public access defibrillators located in high-traffic and high-visibility was important to cardiac arrest survival rates.

“For every minute that passes without defibrillation, the chances of survival decrease by 10 per cent,” he said.

“It is fantastic to see our partnership with OTR extending across so many sites, which will ultimately save lives in South Australia.”

A SA Ambulance Service report between 2016-2017 found 2038 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurred in SA alone.

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