Bechtel concerned about impact when it leaves

AN ARMY of workers is beginning to disband on Curtis Island, while the remaining two LNG companies wait to turn their gas into gold.

But the big task on Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg's mind is demobilisation.

Demobilising isn't just a physical task of taking down temporary construction materials and finishing worker contracts, it is also about lessening the impact of a big project leaving town.

"I really want to see a successful demobilisation," he said.

"You always worry about local economies becoming totally dependent upon the work that you're providing and recognising that work is going to come to an end."

He said there was a worry with service organisation contractors, restaurants and other businesses that had grown as a result of the construction activity.

"You hope that they have business plans in place that when your numbers reduce they have other opportunities, to not just plan or build their life around your work."

Bechtel has been holding procurement workshops aligned with Gladstone Engineering Alliance to educate and inform owners of ways to diversify their businesses.

Mr Berg said 2015 was a huge year for Bechtel, with the commissioning and start-up on the remaining five LNG trains (production units).

"Each one is a milestone," he said.

"It's as monumental as when you begin to produce LNG for the first time."

Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg.
Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg. Mara Pattison-Sowden

The first cargo of liquefied natural gas for APLNG and GLNG, which will occur later this year, would be "huge".

When asked to explain about the rumours the first LNG ship came in half full, Mr Berg said the ships always had to have a certain amount of LNG in them to keep the ship cold "but it certainly wasn't half full".

Mr Berg said Bechtel would be around in much smaller numbers throughout most of 2016.

"Right now we're below 14,000 people," he said.

"We're continuing to hire people including start-up staff, instrument technicians and special class electricians.

"We're hiring but we're also letting people go, so the numbers will continue to reduce."

Mr Berg said about 500 people had been laid off since the end of December.

At its peak Bechtel's staff on the three projects was just over 14,500 people, double the expected peak when construction began.

Despite the LNG companies talking about the possibility of turning the island's worker camps into operational accommodation, Mr Berg said they were owned by Bechtel and under the Environmental Impact Statement requirements must be removed.

"We have to demobilise the construction camps, break them off and get them back on the mainland," he said.

"We already have an agreement with the company that built them to do that, although the LNG owners may want to purchase them for some level of accommodation."

COMING MILESTONES:

  • Flare at GLNG and APLNG
  • First gas at GLNG and APLNG
  • Commissioning of 5 LNG trains


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