Substandard fabrication techniques seem to have caused giant cracks to appear on facility equipment at a US$54 billion (A$76B) gas development.
Chevron Australia has blamed bad welding for multiple breaches in pressurised propane kettles on one of three liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains at the Gorgon Gas Project, 145km off the shore of Karratha.
Workers had reported “massive” cracks, measuring up to 1 metre long and 3cm deep in between eight and 11 kettles on the second LNG train during scheduled maintenance.
Repairs will take months
The proponent expects the affected gas processing unit to be out of order for two months.
“Repairs are underway and we have the necessary personnel with skills and knowledge to conduct the work onsite,” the proponent said according to News Limited.
“Once repairs are complete, we expect to safely commence LNG Train 2 restart activities around early September.”
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) believes the proponent should stop operating another two LNG trains for a comprehensive inspection before employees are injured.
“We are not satisfied with Chevron reporting on itself and repeat our call for an independent investigation by the regulator,” AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney said.
“There is highly skilled personnel onsite … who are telling us that this is a bigger problem than Chevron is letting on.”
South Korean made
The union revealed the project’s 800-strong workforce had serious concerns about the level of workplace safety, especially after discovering the affected kettles were made in South Korea at the same time as other units on the remaining LNG two trains.
“We are hearing from workers that they are fearful for their safety and are reluctant to even go out to the blast-proof wall,” McCartney said according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
“We share their fears. Chevron needs to put workers’ safety first and shutdown for an independent investigation. If something goes wrong it would be catastrophic.”
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The WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) is inspecting the LNG plant as soon as possible.
“As part of any maintenance action, DMIRS expects all operators to review their findings and to assess the results in light of their entire operation,” director of dangerous goods and petroleum safety Steve Emery said according to AAP.