The head contractor on Chevron’s $29 billion Wheatstone LNG facility says it will turn to foreign workers as a last resort as it launched a national recruitment drive to fill 5000 jobs on the project.
At the launch of a construction services centre in Kewdale this morning, Bechtel employee relations manager Robert Croft said it did not intend to apply to the Federal Government for an enterprise migration agreement similar to that approved for Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project.
He said despite an unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent in WA he was confident of finding the skilled workers needed to build Wheatstone, located about 12km west of Onslow.
“We’re looking first of all, primarily in WA, and then we’ll look at Australia as a whole,” he said.
He said the recruitment drive included advertisements on 100 buses in Perth, on billboards and in newspapers.
A similar campaign would start in the Eastern States in a fortnight, with interested workers encouraged to register at wheatstonejobs.com.
“We’re quite confident that with the facilities that we’re going to have on site, it’s going to be a great camp, we’ve got competitive terms and conditions that we will be able to attract labour locally,” he said.
Ms Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, received permission in May to import up to 1715 skilled and semi-skilled workers for the $9.5 billion Roy Hill project in the Pilbara.
Mr Croft said “we don’t have an EMA and we haven’t applied for an EMA”.
“We’d only look at that if we were forced to do so,” he said.
He expected in excess of 100 apprenticeships to be created, though final numbers were still to be determined.
Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien, who launched the Kewdale centre, said the Government did not oppose EMAs, which would be needed at a number of WA resources projects, but it wanted jobs to flow first to West Australians.
“Whether or not other labour sources will be tapped in due course, who knows,” he said. “But first and foremost it’s important to this State that West Australians get all the opportunity to participate.”
The State Government has been under pressure to boost levels of local content on the State’s massive resources project.
Mr O’Brien said local content on onshore projects was more than 80 per cent and 50 per cent and growing on offshore projects.
Wheatstone’s foundation project will comprise two LNG trains with a combined capacity of 8.9 million tonnes per annum, plus a 200 terajoule per day domestic gas plant.
The project has approval to expand to 25 MTPA of LNG, with first LNG expected in 2016.