RPT-Bechtel, union avert construction delays at Australia east coast LNG plants

Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:24pm EDT

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(Repeats story published late Friday; no changes to text)

MELBOURNE Aug 15 (Reuters) - Engineering giant Bechtel Corp reached a new workplace agreement on Friday with construction workers, averting strikes that could have delayed the start-up of three liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants it is building on Australia's east coast.

Bechtel is building $62 billion worth of LNG plants on Curtis Island off the state of Queensland, where the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) approved a new pay and work schedule deal after rejecting two earlier offers.

Some workers had tried to block others getting to and from Curtis Island over the past week ahead of the vote, disrupting activity. With the new agreement approved by 54 percent of those who voted, work could return to normal, Kevin Berg, Bechtel's Gladstone general manager, said on Friday.

"Obviously the industrial action had some impact to work on the projects but we will continue to work hard to bring these LNG plants online towards first LNG production," Berg said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

BG Group Plc's Queensland Curtis Island plant is due to produce its first LNG in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The two other plants at Curtis Island, Gladstone LNG and Australia Pacific LNG, are due to start producing in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Gladstone LNG is owned by Santos Ltd, Malaysia's Petronas, and France's Total SA.

Australia Pacific LNG is owned by ConocoPhillips, Origin Energy and China's Sinopec Corp . (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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