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Chevron has resorted to mediation talks with the unions representing its workers at the Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects in the latest attempt to avert a strike.
If the talks fail, industrial action is set to begin as soon as this week.
Reuters reports that the talks begin today, to be hosted by an official from the Australian Fair Work Commission. They will continue throughout the week.
The report notes Chevron reached out to the watchdog after it presented a wage and working conditions offer directly to its workers, circumventing the unions, and the workers rejected it.
"Ballot results show that they (Chevron) are out of touch with OA members and haven’t listened to a word spoken in their discussions with members, Reps and the Offshore Alliance," the Alliance—a coalition of two trade unions representing workers in the energy industry said in comments following the workers’ vote last week.
Chevron, for its part, said "The vote [that rejected the offer] was part of the bargaining process and an important step which enabled employees to share their views."
The U.S. supermajor operates the Gorgon and the Wheatstone LNG projects offshore Australia. The two together account for about 5% of global LNG supply. Chevron has been locked in a pay and working conditions dispute with its workers for weeks now, while sector player Woodside, the operator of Australia’s largest LNG facility, the North West Shelf, managed to strike a deal and avert a strike.
If this week’s mediation talks fail, workers at Gorgon and Wheatstone will begin striking on September 7 and continue until September 14, with work stoppages and bans on performing certain tasks for up to 11 hours a day.
In comments on the potential consequences of a strike at Chevron’s LNG facilities, ING’s head of commodity research, Warren Patterson, said “Australia is not typically a supplier of LNG to Europe. However, reduced LNG supply would mean that Asian buyers would look elsewhere for alternative supply, increasing competition with European buyers.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.