Woodside Energy – and other Australian producers – are going through tough talks with unions on pay and conditions. The Offshore Alliance (OA) took things a step further this morning, accusing Woodside of “totally unacceptable” practices at the Angel platform.
A worker, Michael Jurman, died on Woodside’s North Rankin platform in June. The OA has warned that Woodside has failed to learn from this tragedy and even risks a repeat.
The union was concerned about a lack of medical facilities on Angel, while also describing accommodation as being below the level required. It has filed a complaint with National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
Angel has traditionally been unmanned, OA said. It now has 24 personnel onboard, the maximum. There is no qualified medic on Angel at any time, the union said. The designated medic lacks qualifications and training and cannot dispense medicines without approval from the official medics on North Rankin.
Should there be a medical emergency, it would take a medivac helicopter one and a half hours to reach Angel. The lack of an onboard medic “is endangering the life and safety of Angel Platform Personnel”.
Accommodation on Angel is non-compliant with minimum standards, OA continued. Noise exceeds national standards, which is “adversely impacting fatigue levels” of workers on the platform, “exposing them to increased risk of serious injury or fatality”.
Living quarter restrictions see three workers sharing a cabin and six sharing a single shower. Cabins lack power points and noise insulation.
Furthermore, the platform is “generally covered in guano which is exposing workers to an unacceptable risk of developing gastrointestinal illness”.
The OA said Woodside should be held to account for “running their facilities and their workforce into the ground. Clean your act up Woodside as the health and safety of our members and your ‘Licence to Operate’ depends on it.”
Angel is around 125 km northwest of Karratha, in Western Australia. A gas pipeline connects the platform to the North Rankin complex, with feedstock then moving onshore to the Karratha gas plant. According to the company, typically there are eight planned maintenance visits per year to the platform. Each of these lasts for around 14 days.
Woodside said it had been in talks with the Australian Workers’ Union and the Electrical Trades Union since April on the North Rankin complex and Goodwyn and Angel platforms.
“Woodside continues to engage actively and constructively in the bargaining process. Positive progress is being made and the parties have reached an in-principle agreement on a number of issues that are key to the workforce.”
In the background to the OA’s concerns about Angel are the ongoing discussions. OA has accused Woodside of being “well off the pace on key bargaining issues including job security and remuneration.
OA went on to report that during talks Woodside’s HR executive had repeatedly called union negotiators a “dickhead”.