Woodside workers to consider deal terms at Australian LNG facility
SYDNEY, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Workers at offshore platforms that feed gas to Woodside's North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Australia will meet on Thursday to decide whether to endorse the terms of a deal reached on disputes over wages and conditions.
Woodside and a union alliance reached an in-principle agreement after a key round of talks which began on Wednesday, both parties said.
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Workers will meet Thursday morning to vote on whether to approve the terms and withdraw a strike notice at North West Shelf, Australia's largest LNG facility.
Workers had threatened to strike as early as Sept. 2 if their terms were not met.
"It's pleasing that Woodside has made our members a strong offer without industrial action being taken," union alliance spokesperson Brad Gandy said in a statement.
Woodside said on Thursday it had not received any notice of strikes at North West Shelf and flagged "substantial progress" was made during the latest talks.
If Woodside workers agreed to the deal terms, that would leave U.S. major Chevron as the sole operator in the gas fields in Western Australia without an enterprise agreement with its workforce, the Offshore Alliance, which combines the Maritime Union of Australia and Australian Workers' Union, said.
The union alliance is balloting Chevron workers on possible industrial action at its Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG operations. The first round of results from there are due on Thursday.
Any disruption to work could slow the exports of the super-chilled fuel from Australia, the world's biggest LNG exporter, which would force Asian buyers to outbid European buyers to attract cargoes.
Dutch wholesale gas prices extended early losses on Wednesday, driven by strong inventories though potential strikes at Australian LNG plants were also in focus.
North West Shelf along with Gorgon and Wheatstone together supply about 10% of the global LNG market.
(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Sonali Paul and Stephen Coates)