WA will become the world's second biggest producer of liquefied natural gas after American petroleum giant Chevron yesterday gave the go-ahead to the $29 billion Wheatstone project.
An estimated 6500 jobs, including 3500 involved in construction, are expected to be created over the next five years as a processing plant is developed near Onslow and linked to four undersea gas fields in the Carnarvon Basin.
The Wheatstone project is estimated to have a permanent workforce of 300 once the project is fully operational in 2016.
The State Government estimates the project will underpin a trebling of Onslow's population to 2200.
Under a deal with the State Government, Chevron has committed to spend more than $180 million on infrastructure around the town, including upgrading the airport and key roads, as well as a new gas-fired power station and desalination plant.
Premier Colin Barnett said the benefits from the project would flow directly into Onslow and to the rest of the State.
About 15 per cent of the gas from the Wheatstone fields would be sold into the WA market.
With initial annual production of 8.9 million tonnes of LNG, Wheatstone will take WA's LNG production to 45 million tonnes annually, second only to Qatar.
Wheatstone can be expanded to 25 million tonnes a year under current government approvals.
It is the second biggest resources project development in Australia's history, behind Chevron's $43 billion Gorgon joint venture and eclipsing Woodside's $14 billion Pluto project.
But Chevron's final investment decision was given a lukewarm reception by steel industry, engineering and union groups campaigning for a bigger slice of fabrication and design work on major resources projects to be done in Australia.
UnionsWA said much of the work had already been earmarked for overseas companies, including key LNG train components being made in Italy and the US and water pumps coming from Norway.
Chevron vice-chairman George Kirkland said about 50 per cent of the $29 billion development cost would be spent in WA.
We are always trying to balance local content and the cost of the project, he said.
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