The Persian Gulf's biggest LNG contracting company has set up shop in Australia armed with a giant foreign workforce ready to step in if skilled local workers cannot be found.
Both the Federal and State governments were involved in bringing the Nasser S. Al Hajri Corporation to Perth to service the resources industries in WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
NaSAH Australia chief executive Peter Linford said the company was also invited to enter the market by some of its international clients, who include Chevron, Shell, Total and Fluor.
The parent company has 65,000 employees worldwide and an annual turnover of about $3 billion.
"The capacity and the capability of what they have doesn't have to be explained or introduced to the international players," Mr Linford said. "We're in discussions with the Australians now and asking them to give us what their workforce lists are."
Mr Linford said while Australian contractors would continue to provide such basic infrastructure as accommodation camps, NaSAH would come into its own for more specialist LNG engineering work.
"We would need to train Australians into those jobs," he said. "Where there is a shortfall and an immediate need to get those projects going we would go through the normal (immigration) process of looking to fulfil those jobs with a shortfall of the pipeline of people we have internationally."
While NaSAH was yet to secure a contract, it was in talks to do LNG work with both international and Australian clients.
"There are potentially 13 projects that could be happening at the one time which is unprecedented in Australia's history. It is obviously going to present skills challenges for Australia," Mr Linford said.
He said while local workers would always have priority, drawing on overseas skilled labour was inevitable.
"There is going to be a gap where some foreign workers are going to have to meet those, otherwise those investments internationally coming into Australia may retract and they may disappear altogether and that for Australia would be a disaster."
NaSAH is also setting up a training company, OGM Technical Institute, to work with TAFE institutions to help build a pool of skilled workers to service projects.It has engaged former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh to promote its efforts. "If you want a job in this sector in Australia and you're willing to put the work in and the time and the effort there's an opportunity for you," Mr Waugh said.
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