Karratha opposes new Fifo camp

19/09/2017 - 15:31

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The City of Karratha has strongly opposed Woodside Petroleum’s plans for a 700-bed fly-in, fly-out camp, but the final decision rests with Planning and Lands Minister Rita Saffioti, who is playing her cards close to her chest.

The new facility would reduce Woodside’s demand on other transient worker villages in Karratha.

The City of Karratha has strongly opposed Woodside Petroleum’s plans for a 700-bed fly-in, fly-out camp, but the final decision rests with Planning and Lands Minister Rita Saffioti, who is playing her cards close to her chest.

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the proposal was short sighted and the council was struggling to understand why Woodside seemed so committed to Fifo.

“The council is not convinced that there is a need for a new Fifo camp, in particular one of that size, and does not support the notion that Fifo camps are part of our future for the next 30 years,” he said.

“Building a camp on the outskirts of town for long-term operational workers is old-school thinking as it reinforces an ‘us-and-them’ mentality, and we consider this is not in the best interests of the community.”

Ms Saffioti said she was aware of the City of Karratha’s position, and would be meeting with both the city and Woodside later this week to discuss the proposal.

The meetings come two years after her ministerial predecessor, the Nationals’ Terry Redman, refused to extend Woodside’s lease on the Gap Ridge Fifo camp, as he pushed for more town-based accommodation.

Ertech subsequently demolished the Gap Ridge village and has been contracted to demolish the existing Bay Village camp, which is Woodside’s preferred site for its new workers village.

The project application has been lodged by European infrastructure investor DIF, which heads a consortium selected by Woodside as preferred contractor to build, own and operate the camp.

The consortium includes facilities management company Compass Group, which trades as ESS Support Services Worldwide, and two arms of giant Canadian group Brookfield - construction company Multiplex and advisory firm Brookfield Financial.

Their contract is valued at $400 million, with construction to cost $80 million and the balance to cover 15 years of site management.

Woodside says it is not proposing to change its workforce model, which includes about 400 families living permanently in in Karratha.

The new facility would reduce Woodside’s demand on other transient worker villages in Karratha.

It currently has about 950 employees and contractors across four facilities – Aspen, Cheratta, Civeo and Kingfisher – and said it needed up to 1,500 rooms across peak construction and maintenance periods.

The company’s counter-arguments have failed to sway the local council, which said there had been substantial investment in making Karratha a much more appealing place to live. 

“We now know that employing locally is cheaper than Fifo and that it is much easier to attract and retain staff, so we’re struggling to understand why Woodside seems so committed to Fifo for such a long time,” the council said in a statement.

“While council acknowledges that some short-term accommodation may be required to support Woodside’s expansion and maintenance projects, we believe there is sufficient supply in the current market to support this activity and the request for a 30-year lease to build another Fifo camp is not in line with council’s vision for a cohesive, inclusive and sustainable community.

“If a camp is required, there are a number of other more suitable sites throughout Karratha that would provide far more acceptable integration with the local community and justify a longer term lease approval.

“Despite council presenting these options to Woodside and voicing strong concerns about the existing proposal, Woodside is still pursuing the redevelopment of Bay Village.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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