View Comments
Clough boss sidesteps FLNG debate
The West Australian

Clough chief executive Kevin Gallagher gave a wide berth to the debate surrounding floating LNG projects in Australian waters, indicating whichever way the technology went LNG contractors will have to adapt to meet it.

Speaking after delivering a speech on the growing cost challenges facing LNG developments in Australia, Mr Gallagher declined to weigh into speculation surrounding the flagged move towards floating LNG at Woodside's controversial $40 billion Browse development.

Instead he said Clough would wait to see what opportunities Browse and its strategic partners presented, and then offer the solutions.

"I have no view on what the companies should do (with Browse), but whatever they do decide, we want to be in a position to offer them the skills and the technologies to support the operation of the facilities," Mr Gallagher said.

"Whether the LNG plant is onshore or offshore, it still requires maintenance and it still requires operation.

"It's a huge project and it will create lots of opportunities for many, many years to come, either way. And on a global scale these technology evolutions will always open up new opportunities for new developments all over the world as they become proven, but we'll just have to see how this unfolds in Australia."

As the company's chief executive since June 2011, Mr Gallagher has taken the engineering and project services contractor to new heights. Clough now employs more than 5000 people at a range of WA-based LNG projects such as Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone developments and Santos' Gladstone project in Queensland. Its share price hit a record high earlier this month on the back of the oil and gas boom, avoiding the recent carnage surrounding mining contractors during last year's iron ore price drop.

Although Mr Gallagher recognised times were good, he said Australia's oil and gas industry was reaching the crossroads.

Joining the growing number of LNG-focused companies calling for a greater focus on local technology and innovation, Mr Gallagher said it was time for Australia to think beyond the construction phase and focus on technology.

"The time to start thinking about that and developing the policy and skills is today," he said.

"Will we be a Saudi Arabia, living off the fat of the boom, or will we invest in ourselves and create exportable skills that will help sustain our economy beyond the boom, like Norway.

"The UK did it retrospectively and their industry almost died."