Chevron's Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project may have run into a hurdle after the Shire of Ashburton rejected a proposal to house workers in the vicinity of the proposed projec

Chevron has proposed that 75% of the operation workforce, around 300-400 workers, would be accommodated in transient accommodation, 15 kilometres southwest of the town of Onslow.

The company believes that due to the lack of utilities and infrastructure in Onslow, including power and water, it would be inappropriate to locate the operational workforce in the town.

At a shire meeting on Wednesday, the council rejected Chevron’s proposal, fearing that it would result in a two-town scenario.

“The shire is particularly concerned that the construction of an operational workforce accommodation facility adjacent to the Wheatstone LNG facility would set an unacceptable precedent whereby future operators of developments in the hydrocarbon industrial hub would also accommodate staff in the same location,” shire president Greg Musgrave said.

“This would result in a two-town scenario with 700-800 workers located in a workers’ village adjacent to the industrial development but also close to Onslow for the next 50 years or more.”

While the council did not support a company-sponsored amendment to the shire’s planning scheme, it did resolve it would support a planning scheme amendment that would allow the LNG project to proceed but with a workforce based in Onslow.

“The shire is excited by the possibility of Chevron constructing the proposed Wheatstone LNG project on the proposed Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area, particularly as it will represent the first major step in the development of the proposed hydrocarbon precinct,” Musgrave said.

“The shire is, however, of the opinion that development must not be to the detriment of the local community and Onslow in particular.”

Musgrave added that while the shire appreciated the company’s concerns relating to existing infrastructure in Onslow, there was sufficient time for hard and social infrastructure to be put in place as the operational workforce accommodation did not need to be in place for five years.

He also said the shire would continue to work with Chevron and the state government in order to reach an outcome suitable to all parties.

A Chevron spokesperson told PNN it would continue to work with the shire and government agencies to secure a mutually acceptable location for the accommodation of the operational fly-in, fly-out workforce.

A final investment decision on the two-train, 10 million tonnes per annum project is expected next year.

The project will take gas from Chevron’s wholly owned Wheatstone field which straddles WA-17-R and WA-253-P as well as the Iago field that spans WA-17-R andWA-16-R, of which Shell Development owns a one-third share.

The project also will take gas from Apache Energy and Kufpec Australia’s Julimar and Brunello fields under a deal that gives the two companies a 16.25% and 8.75% equity stake in the Wheatstone facilities respectively.

First production is expected in 2016.