LNG Strikes Could Begin Early September Amid Australia Disputes

image is BloomburgMedia_RZPQQYT0G1KW01_21-08-2023_05-54-05_638281728000000000.jpg

The pipes of the UMM BAB liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker at PGP Consortium Ltd. LNG Terminal in Karachi, Pakistan, on Friday, June 24, 2022. This is the third time this month that Pakistan failed to complete an liquefied natural gas (LNG) tender for July, and the country’s inability to purchase fuel threatens to exacerbate electricity shortages just as hotter weather boosts air conditioning and power demand. Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg

Strike action in Australia’s LNG sector could begin as early as Sept. 2 if new talks between Woodside Energy Group Ltd. and union officials on pay and conditions fail to resolve disputes. Ballots are also taking place on potential walkouts by workers at Chevron Corp. facilities.

Any outages would threaten about 10% of global supply and a local export sector that generated an estimated A$92 billion ($59 billion) in earnings in the year to June 30.

Here are the key dates so far —

  • July 26: Australia’s Fair Work Commission, a labor regulator, authorizes the Australian Workers’ Union and the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia to hold ballots of members at Woodside’s North West Shelf operations on industrial action
  • Aug. 9: Almost 150 Woodside workers vote in favor of potential action, including stoppages of between 30 minutes and four hours, and activities such as refusing to unload cargo other than food, water or medical supplies, to restart process gas compressors or generators, or to facilitate helicopter landings
    • Industrial action must start within 30 days of a completed ballot, unless the commission grants an extension
    • A union needs to give up to seven days’ notice before any industrial action commences
  • Aug. 10: The commission approves requests by the AWU and CEPU to hold ballots on action among members at Chevron’s Gorgon LNG facility. Separately, the regulator approves both unions to hold votes among workers at the Wheatstone downstream LNG facility
    • Voting needs to be completed no later than 10 days after a ballot order is made
  • Aug. 14: Requests by the AWU and CEPU to hold ballots of workers at Chevron’s Wheatstone platform on industrial action are also approved
  • Aug. 15: Talks take place between Woodside and unions on disputes at the North West Shelf operations. The sides remain apart on job security and remuneration, according to the Offshore Alliance, a group that includes the AWU
  • Aug. 18: A ballot of workers at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone downstream facilities will begin, according to the alliance
  • Aug. 21: Voting among workers at Chevron’s Wheatstone offshore platform is scheduled to open
  • Aug. 23: New discussions are expected to take place between Woodside and labor union officials. If disputes aren’t resolved by the end of that day workers have “unanimously endorsed” giving the company notice that staff will go ahead with industrial action
    • With seven working days’ notice required before action begins, stoppages could begin Sept. 2
  • Aug. 24: Ballot of workers at Gorgon and Wheatstone downstream expected to be finalized by 3 p.m. local time in Perth
  • Aug. 28: Voting of workers at the Wheatstone platform expected to be finalized
  • Sept. 2: Industrial action could begin at Woodside’s North West Shelf if Aug. 23 talks don’t resolve disputes

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

By David Stringer


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