Inpex LNG workers are likely to be laid off ahead of Christmas as a heavy wet season and operational delays bite.
Unions NT secretary Paul Kirby has stated that ongoing delays to equipment shipped from overseas, combined with the slowdown caused by the heavy wet season, has disrupted the transition from the early civil works phase to the electrical and mechanical construction phase, according to NT News.
"It's extremely disappointing it has been managed so people get the worst possible news just before Christmas,” Kirby told the ABC.
"It will be fairly distressing for some of those families over the Christmas break."
While figures have not been given, it is understood that the losses could be anywhere in the range of between 400 to 1200 from Inpex’s Blaydin Point project, which is part of the wider Ichthys LNG project.
Inpex confirmed the losses but would not give a figure on job cuts, with Inpex general manager Sean Kildare telling the ABC “it's certainly not a number or a position the project has taken”.
"At this stage we haven't come to a landing on what those numbers and what those timings are, so we are working with management and management are working with all of our people to make sure that the final result here is as minimal as practical.
"At this stage it's a bit premature to be putting numbers on anything.
"I wouldn't want to mislead anybody. We will certainly be full steam ahead once we pass the wet season risk period and we will be ramping our intensity naturally."
Kirby added that it was likely that some of the cut workers would be re-hired at the beginning of the dry season.
However, Kildare denied Kirby’s statements that delays in equipment from overseas had also played a part in the reduction of worker numbers, with an Inpex spokesperson telling the NT News that it was based on solely on the changing phase of work at the site.
"We restructure the arrival and departure times of a number of huge pieces of equipment," Kildare said.
"This doesn't really have a material impact on our workforce numbers. At this stage we don't have any substantial delays to any parts of the project,” he told the ABC.
Despite this recent round of job losses, work is continuing on the project, with UGL ramping up after winning the $740 million contract for the structural, mechanical, and piping construction on the Ichthys LNG project, while Monadelphous will carry out the $680 million mechanical works at the site's onshore LNG facilities.
Unions NT has been contacted for further comment.