Australian contractor Clough's collapse leaves more than $8 bln of projects in limbo
MELBOURNE, Dec 6 (Reuters) - More than $8 billion worth of gas, power, rail and mining projects across Australia, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea face delays following the collapse of engineering firm Clough on Monday.
Projects that could be hit include the expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, run by Rio Tinto , and major power plant and transmission projects essential to maintaining a stable grid in Australia from 2023.
Clough, with a global workforce of 2,500, was placed into voluntary administration by its South African parent, Murray & Roberts Holdings, after a deal to sell the business to Italian construction giant Webuild SpA fell through.
Deloitte, appointed as administrator, said it would assess Perth-based Clough's financial position over the next two to three days and begin an accelerated sale and recapitalisation process, aiming to get projects back on track.
It said the goal is to source "immediate interim funding to be able to continue work on as many projects as possible as quickly as possible".
Webuild and Clough are partners on a A$5 billion ($3.4 billion) rail project in Australia's Queensland state and the A$5 billion expansion of Australia's biggest hydropower scheme, Snowy 2.0, which is already facing a delay of nearly two years into 2028.
Clough is also handling construction of the A$768 million ($515 million) Waitsia Stage 2 gas project, owned by a unit of Japan's Mitsui & Co and Australia's Beach Energy .
The Waitsia Stage 2 project was due to start producing gas for export through the North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in late 2023. Mitsui said it would work with all its partners to ensure the project proceeds.
"Given that an administrator has only just been appointed for Clough, it would be premature to speculate on the precise impacts for the Waitsia Gas Project Stage 2," Mitsui E&P Australia said in a statement.
Clough is also the contractor on a key project needed to shore up Australia's power supply, the 320 megawatt (MW) Tallawarra B gas-fired power station owned by EnergyAustralia, a unit of Hong Kong's CLP Holdings.
An EnergyAustralia spokesperson said the company was working through the implications of Clough going into administration and would have further comment later on Tuesday. Tallawarra B was due to start operating in October 2023.
Another major project involving Clough is a 900 kilometre power transmission line, EnergyConnect, owned by TransGrid, essential for hooking new solar and wind farms to the grid.
TransGrid said it would continue to work with Clough's partner Elecnor to deliver the A$2.3 billion project.
"We expect to meet the current completion deadline of late 2024," TransGrid executive general manager Gordon Taylor said in emailed comments.
Rio Tinto had no immediate comment on the impact of Clough's collapse. ($1 = 1.4901 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Additional reporting by Praveen Menon in Sydney; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)