Last-minute talks broke down at Chevron’s LNG projects, and Unions have initiated three weeks of strike actions, causing the European gas price to surge. Chevron’s Wheatstone and Gorgon LNG plants contribute approximately 7% of global LNG supplies and 47% of Western Australia’s domestic gas. The strikes are planned to average 10 hours a day until Thursday, at which point the strikes will escalate to two full weeks of 24-hour strikes.
The Dutch TTF gas futures (European benchmark gas prices) jumped 8.2% in the first 15 minutes of market opening; a direct result of the strikes. However, the impact of the strikes in the short term is softened because storage levels across Europe are reportedly at record levels for this time of year. Sources from the Union said there were five days of mediation prior to Friday morning without reaching an agreement. The Union indicated Chevron apparently had demanded “special concessions” in bargaining – “a demand which we have put through the shredding machine”.
An energy analyst indicated that the initial action is of a lower level, causing costs and inefficiencies but not significantly impacting production. However, there would be a major impact should the strike escalate on Thursday.
A spokesman for Chevron said, “Throughout the process to date, we’ve made generous, good faith offers and concessions in an effort to finalise enterprise agreements.” “Unfortunately, following numerous meetings and conciliation sessions with the Fair Work Commission, no agreement has been reached as the unions are asking for terms significantly above the market.” The spokesman also stated that Chevron remains committed to attaining an agreement which will achieve a market-competitive outcome in the interests of both Chevron and its employees.
Edge believes the impact of the strikes won’t significantly affect the Australian gas and electricity market as full-scale shutdowns of the Chevron Wheatstone and Gorgon plants are unlikely. This is because it could trigger a domestic energy crisis in WA, prompting government intervention to end the strikes.