Local jobs in pipeline

UNION bosses are confident that construction jobs on Esso’s new $400 million pipeline from Longford to Hastings will not be lost to overseas workers, despite Esso failing to make such a commitment earlier this week.

Alarm bells began to ring on Monday when Esso’s Richard Ellis failed to guarantee local workers would be used on the project, which will involve a smaller diameter pipeline built next to an existing pipeline from Longford to Long Island Point.

In an interview with ABC Gippsland, Mr Ellis said the decision surrounding the exact make up of the workforce for the pipeline would be left in the hands of the contractor chosen for the job.

However, AWU state secretary Ben Davis said after follow up discussions with Esso and the future contractor, he was confident locals would make up much of the workforce.

“I contacted Esso immediately and the principal contractor, (and) they assured me that the overwhelming majority of jobs will be local,” he said.

“Now whether that means locals in the Latrobe Valley, locals in Victoria or locals in Australia, is an interesting point.”

With the pipeline contractor to be officially named in coming weeks, Esso too moved to allay any fears that jobs would be handed to overseas workers, with Esso spokesperson Jessica Bodon saying the company had a history of employing locals.

“Esso has a strong track record of supporting local contractors and suppliers,” Ms Bodon said.

“While the construction contractor will decide what resources are needed to carry out the construction, we anticipate the contractor will source the people, equipment and services from within Victoria and Australia where possible.”

Mr Davis said while the contention over exactly what defined ‘local’ was understandable, he had been reassured the vast majority of jobs would not be headed to overseas workers.

“I can’t put hand on heart and say they all will (remain local), because there might be some specialist white collar roles that will come in from overseas, but given the concerns about use of foreign labour I was keen to quickly get on top of this and they’ve reassured me that’ll be locals,” he said.

“The intent is to use local labour wherever possible and I’ll be holding them to that.”

As reported in Tuesday’s Gippsland Times Esso will replace a 187 kilometre pipeline to transport crude oil and condensate between its Longford and Long Island Point facilities.

The pipeline would allow the continued safe delivery of crude oil and condensate and ensure that natural gas from Gippsland’s offshore operations continued to flow. 

The pipeline replacement has received full project funding from Esso Australia Resources and Gippsland Basin Joint Venture partner BHP Billiton. 

Each has a 50 per cent interest in the project, with Esso Australia Resources acting as the operator. 

Construction of the pipeline is expected to get underway in late 2015, subject to regulatory approval, and will take up to two years to complete.