Service sector ready, willing and able: WorleyParsons

DESPITE criticism from operators, the Australian services sector believes it is well placed to take on the next phase of the energy cycle, according to WorleyParsons CEO Andrew Wood.

Haydn Black

Wood said he had heard of concerns that Australian services firms were unable to meet operator needs, but confirmed the sector was well positioned to deliver the capacity needed to support the nation’s expanded world-class asset.

“The challenge that lies before us is to manage the transition to production, to ensure the assets continue to perform, and then support them to optimise that performance,” Wood said.

Addressing concerns from LNG operators, Wood said he recognised the transition from development to production was important to support the second wave of growth, but he said the services sector had matured in the 25 years since the North West Shelf Venture started up and was primed for the next phase.

He said there was capacity to support new plants as fewer resources were required to maintain and support existing developments compared to constructing them – meaning the skills and capacity constraints that affected the development phase should no longer be an issue.

“The average NWSV resources to sustain maintenance is around 1000 [workers], peaking at 1500 during shutdowns and turnaround,” Wood said.

Smaller projects, such as Queensland Curtis LNG or Pluto LNG, require even less, so the services sector is more than capable of resourcing maintenance, shutdowns and turnarounds, according to Wood.

He defended the capability of services companies to supply a local skilled workforce, saying that aside from a few niche parts of the LNG sector, such as cryogenics, their skills are transferable across all of Australia's process industries.

He also said WorleyParsons supported 34 LNG projects worldwide and was one of several international services providers which could bring substantial expertise to bear in the local market.

Likewise, the local sector is growing along with upstream CSG and unconventional plays. Speaking on this, Wood said Worley was prepared for further growth.

He admitted that competitiveness was an issue, but said standardisation of design and simplification of work processes could help on that front.

He said the services sector was ready to assist operators to tackle the high level of failures expected immediately following project start up, as well as transition to the maintenance and optimisation phases.

By moving away from the view that customers and services providers were standalone entities, Wood said project costs could be reduced by 20% through greater integration between operators and suppliers early on in the development cycle.

He admitted that the record in construction of giant LNG projects globally had not been good – in terms of schedule slippage and cost blow-outs – but said the root causes of these issues was the increasing complexity of the assets being developed.

He said industry as a whole must look more closely at its expectations and realise there were difficulties associated with scaling up projects that might not have been fully appreciated.

By working closely together earlier in the cycle, Wood said assumptions could be questioned and a greater degree of experience could be shared.

“There is a real thirst for change,” he said.

With determination and collaboration he said Australia could position itself in the top quartile of the maintenance sector.

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