Chevron Gorgon Work May Stop Over Safety, Union Says

The Maritime Union of Australia said concerns that worker safety is inadequate at Chevron Corp.’s A$43 billion ($42 billion) Gorgon gas project may halt construction if the issue isn’t resolved.

The union wants a “safety audit” of contractor Royal Boskalis Westminster NV’s cranes and equipment at the site off Australia’s northwest coast, it said in an e-mailed statement today. The organization represents about 12,000 Australian workers, according to its website.

Chevron and partners Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed last year to proceed with the Gorgon liquefied natural gas venture, Australia’s largest resources investment, to gain from increasing Asian demand for the fuel. Gorgon is among Australian resources developments competing for workers as a looming skills shortage confronts the industry.

“It’s not about money -- it’s about safety concerns around high-risk work and high-risk machinery,” Chris Cain, the union’s Western Australia secretary, said by phone today.

Nicole Hodgson, a Chevron spokeswoman in Perth, and Guy Houston, a company spokesman also based in Perth, didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Labor disputes in Western Australia have disrupted construction of the A$14 billion Pluto LNG project operated by Woodside Petroleum Ltd., the country’s second-largest oil and gas producer.

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