Unions have joined the backlash against Shell's plans to fast-track floating gas platforms in preference to Woodside's $40 billion James Price Point development, threatening to target investors in a bid to stop WA job losses.
Shell's chief executive Peter Voser sparked the latest bickering over the contentious project near Broome when he told British investors late last week that exploding costs in WA would force the company to go slow on land-based developments.
Instead the global petroleum giant will push its joint venture partners in Australia such as Woodside to use massive floating LNG platforms such as its nearby $US12.6 billion ($12.15 billion) Prelude venture.
However in a sign of unions' resolve to ensure local jobs created by land-backed processing hubs are not lost to overseas ship-building factories, Manufacturing Union State Secretary Steve McCartney said it could also target investors.
"We could easily do some corporate campaigns pointing out to investors in these companies the overall benefit of the project for WA," Mr McCartney said.
With the local content issue yet to arise as a political issue in the election campaign, as it did two years ago, Mr McCartney attacked the Barnett government over the issue.
"What the State Government can do is simply to help make the project more viable, by encouraging the use of domestic gas and build heavy engineering capacity in the Kimberley," he said. "It would create jobs for locals and an industry for 30 or 40 years."
"We have offered to talk to the Government about how we might help to make it viable, but . . . they are not listening."
Mr Barnett said he had met Mr McCartney twice on the issue, and was a proud supporter of the use of domestic gas, but has previously been adamant there would be no "industrialisation of the Kimberley" other than a limited LNG precinct at James Price Point.
But the union call angered environmental groups, opposed to any development in the pristine wilderness area.
"The best economic development for the Kimberley is one based on its natural and cultural values like the Great Barrier Reef which provides 63,000 jobs and contributes more than $5 billion to the Australian economy each year," said Environs Kimberley executive director Martin Pritchard.
Woodside as the lead operator, has consistently refused to buy into the debate, saying it is proceeding with a commercial assessment of the venture, and will make a decision by the middle of this year.