The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) claims recent delays to repairs at Chevron’s Gorgon liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia have been caused by the company using incorrect weld procedures.

Chevron revealed late last week that it would take longer than anticipated to complete repairs at Gorgon after cracks were found on propane heat exchangers during routine maintenance of Train 2.

The operator had intended to have the train back online this month, but has pushed back the restart until October, with AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney claiming Tuesday the delay was due to using the incorrect welding procedure to fix the cracks.

“AMWU understands Chevron attempted to fix the exchangers on Train 2 but failed to undertake the correct welding procedure which has delayed the repairs to train two even further,” he said.

“We have been told the procedure failed to include a post weld heat treatment and that the problem was only discovered near completion of the final repair.”

A Chevron spokesperson did not comment on McCartney’s claims when contacted by Upstream, however the US supermajor stated last week only some welds “in targeted areas” required additional work, indicating not all of the work carried out so far would need to be redone.

Regulator draws union ire

McCartney also took aim at the West Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety (DMIRS), which had initially given Chevron 14 days to also inspect the remaining two trains at Gorgon for similar cracking found on Train 2, but then later agreed to Chevron’s proposal for a staged inspection.

The current schedule will see Train 1 shutdown for inspection in October and Train 3 in January next year, however the delays at Train 2 could see that schedule modified.

McCartney on Tuesday called for the regulator to deny any further delays to the inspection of the remaining two trains, aiming his criticism directly towards DMIRS director of dangerous goods and petroleum safety, Steve Emery.

“We’ve got no faith in Chevron to come up with a solution, and no faith in Steve Emery to have the courage to take Chevron on, to make sure it’s job safe,” McCartney said.

“Steve Emery has gone soft on Chevron. Chevron was given 14 days to inspect the exchangers but Steve Emery granted them an extension until October. We can’t afford to give Chevron another extension, it needs to be done now to protect the safety of our members.”

DMIRS did not respond to McCartney’s direct attack of Emery when contacted by Upstream on Tuesday, however, DMIRS deputy director general safety regulation group, Ian Munns, stated: “DMIRS continues to apply the appropriate regulatory protocols and processes to ensure worker safety during Chevron Australia's remediation of its Gorgon LNG plant.”

Chevron’s US$54 billion Gorgon LNG project is located on Barrow Island, just off the West Australian coast, and the 15.6 million tonne per annum plant is fed by the offshore Gorgon and Jansz-Io fields.

The joint venture owners of the Gorgon LNG project include operator Chevron with a 47.3% interest, ExxonMobil with 25%, Shell on 25%, Osaka Gas with 1.25%, Tokyo Gas on 1% and Chubu Electric Power with 0.417%