Gorgon Australia: meeting every challenge



Raymond Yeung, Boskalis Australia, Chatswood, Australia


The Gorgon project was executed for Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, together with Kellogg Joint Venture – Gorgon. Boskalis Australia was involved in the early contractor involvement phase and was responsible for the design and construction of a major LNG harbour at Barrow Island, approximately 60 kilometres off the North West coast of Australia. The project included the construction of facilities for the transshipment of equipment, a 200- metre quay wall, a number of ‘dolphins’ and ro-ro facility. Boskalis was also responsible for the logistics and the program management for some of the basic infrastructure.

Logistical challenges

The isolated location of Barrow Island meant a huge logistical effort was required. “It was quite a challenge to get the people, the equipment and the rocks needed for the coastal protection on Barrow Island into the right place safely. Just transporting the rock, for example: about 475,000 tons of rock had to be transported all the way from Perth for the coastal protection structures,” explains project director Raymond Yeung. “We used five large seagoing tugs that sailed back and forth with 10,000 and 12,000 tonne barges. That is the equivalent of a 3,000-kilometre voyage.”

Accommodation and transportation for the workforce was also quite a challenge. One of the most remarkable aspects of the Gorgon Project was that everything took place at sea – working and living.Apart from an airport, Barrow Island has no other facilities. This meant that all the staff at the height of the project, more than 500 people, had to be housed on the accommodation vessel Finnmarken. Every day large quantities of food had to be delivered to the vessel and hundreds of employees had to be ferried to and from work every day by ship. Given that embarkation and transferring between vessels carries well-known risks, much attention was paid to this during the preparation. A number of smaller boats used for crew changes underwent technical modifications to make transfers as safe as possible. This remained a recurring item at the so-called toolbox meetings. And it paid off, with around 450,000 safe transfers made during the course of the project.

The frequent cyclones in the region were also a complicating factor and constant contact was maintained with the Australian meteorological institutes. “If the weather conditions forced us to do so, all activities were halted,” said Raymond. “All vessels and other equipment are demobilised to a sheltered location at Dampier, around 80 nautical miles east of the project. For instance, we were demobilised 12 times during the cyclone season of 2010-2011. Sometimes it lasted a few days, sometimes more than two weeks.”


A priority on this project was the protection of the characteristic native animal and plant life on and around Barrow Island. The work was carried out under an extensive set of environmental requirements, ranging from the use of biodegradable hydraulic oil and waste separation, to stringent quarantine requirements.

Anyone travelling to Barrow Island by air or sea was subject to strict checks to prevent non-native plant and animal species from being introduced to the island. For example, all vessels had their hulls thoroughly cleaned, in many cases in dry dock. Every last piece of dry equipment was brought to a specially designated, demarcated area where it was taken apart and checked for the presence of any seeds, substances and small creatures. 

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