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Brad Fish, NQBP and Ross Nugent, Aurecon
Situated roughly 25 kilometres north of Bowen in Queensland, the Port of Abbot Point is Australia’s most northerly coal port. The port is managed by North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation Limited (NQBP), which is also responsible for managing a number of other major seaport facilities in Queensland.
Ross Nugent, Industry Leader, Resources, met with Brad Fish, Chief Executive Officer, NQBP to discuss key drivers for the ongoing expansion programmes for the Port of Abbot Point.
Your business must have identified the key issues that drive project success. When you commence a project, what are some of the early drivers you identify?
Having been in this organisation for over 20 years and having worked in a variety of roles, I would have to say that as with any project, planning is the key. With the size of our Abbot Point expansion projects, we need to get things right from the start. We need to allow enough time for the environmental approval process, to undertake environmental studies, to consult with all agencies and communities and then build these processes into the project’s timeframe. The worst thing you can do with any project like this is to try to fast track or take short cuts in the planning process, because that is what will lead to cost or time increases.
Project culture and having good teams is another key part of delivering a successful major project. But this doesn't happen by accident does it?
At NQBP, we have always focused on creating fairly small teams, as we believe this helps the culture throughout the project, particularly as people feel really engaged. People feel better about working within a smaller group, rather than being just one of a very large group. We have always focused on getting people with the right expertise and experience to run our projects. We've found that when people are part of a small group, they get a higher level of satisfaction from what they are doing.
Does having a number of smaller teams make it easier to create a collaborative environment and establish the project management structures you need for successful project delivery?
Exactly, collaborate, stay focussed and set realistic timeframes. A stretched target is okay but not an unrealistically stretched target. If you stretch too far, people feel they are on an unrealistic timeframe to deliver. I enjoy working on the projects, and through our collaborative approach, we bring people on board that we believe best fit the team and who will work well together. We use both internal and external resources, with the external resources coming in for a year or two. In some cases, some external people have been with us for five and six years now, usually because they enjoy working on our projects.
For the Abbot Point expansions, the complexity of the project supply chain must be something to manage constantly?
For our business, the port is the final tool in the resources supply chain. The port has no other reason for being other than for the export or import of cargo or commodities. The facility might be a business in its own right but it is has to fit into a supply chain which starts with the producer or mine and ends with the user of the product, wherever that may be. So, managing our part of the supply chain is a critical part of our business and our expansion projects and their delivery.
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