An International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) conference in Perth, Australia, on 11 May declared Chevron’s Barrow Island a ‘port of convenience’ (POC), vowing worldwide union opposition to the USD54 billion LNG project.
“The ITF declares Barrow Island, an island 50 kilometres northwest of the Pilbara coast of Western Australia, a port of convenience when the first shipment of LNG leaves the island,” the statement read, calling on ITF affiliates, companies, and operators in contractual relationships or arrangements with the port to support the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and its members “by any and all available lawful means”.
“Chevron continues to seek to exclude my union from an Australian island to export natural gas which belongs to all Australians,” ITF president and MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin told conference delegates from Asia Pacific, Europe, and the United States.
Chevron declined to comment on the announcement when contacted by IHS Maritime.
However, industry sources said although the ITF and the MUA were “fierce adversaries”, they were just “grumpy” about not having any coverage of work on the island.
“Chevron won’t blink”, one source told IHS Maritime, pointing to a similar ITF statement issued in August last year.
According to Chevron’s website, the Gorgon Project is now 90% complete, with first shipments scheduled to begin before end of the year.
Meanwhile, Chevron said its markets and shipping contracts were commercially in confidence. According to the company’s website, the project is a joint venture with ExxonMobil, Shell, Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas, and Chubu Electric Power.
The ITF set up the POC campaign alongside its long-running ‘flags of convenience’ shipping campaign in 2006 to successfully oppose EU legislation, allowing shipowners to bypass dockworkers at EU ports. It has since been expanded to target all world ports judged to exclude union labour or undermine union conditions.
A Chevron-union stand-off has been escalating over the company’s claims that Australian unions were to blame for an estimated USD17 billion cost blowout at the Gorgon Project. Unions commissioned a report claiming mismanagement and logistical issues were behind the blowout, while accusing the company of breaching health and safety guidelines. Chevron is currently suing the union for USD20 million in damages over union safety stoppages. Australian unions, however, won a recent court ruling that prevents foreign workers in the Australian LNG industry.
The ITF statement is crafted to allow Chevron time to reach a settlement with the union before the POC declaration takes effect when LNG shipments get under way.