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Energy Conference Attendees Buzzed About Gigaprojects Despite Volatility

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Photo courtesy chevron
PRISTINE? Builders of the $45-billion Gorgon LNG plant in Australia face strict bio-security rules.
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Uncertainty and volatility will dominate development of large-scale projects in new markets and untapped locales, say attendees of the Engineering and Construction Contracting in Phoenix on Sept. 7-10.

With uncertainty and volatility stifling large-scale capital investment in new global markets and pristine locales, project challenges attracted a record number of attendees to a key energy-industrial megaprojects conference in Phoenix on Sept. 7-10.

As development encroaches on increasingly remote areas, jurisdictions are becoming more protective of threatened species and environmental risks, Chevron Corp. executive Johann Van Der Merwe told more than 600 attendees at the Engineering & Construction Contracting Association (ECC) conference. ECC—a group of owners, contractors and suppliers in the process, refining, pharmaceutical and power sectors—is an affiliate of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, which is committed to improving the outcome of capital projects.

Van Der Merwe is quarantine manager on the oil firm's Gorgon liquefied natural- gas development project, now being built on Barrow Island off Australia's northwest coast. The estimated $45-billion project is located on one of Australia's oldest natural preserves and has strict bio-security rules for construction equipment, materials and personnel, he said. Quarantine officials have treated more than 500,000 tons of material shipped to the island, including the disassembly and examination of equipment to catch stowaway seeds and insects.

Shale-gas development could be a global “game changer” in energy production, said Laura Knight Atkins, director of petroleum research at Hart Energy, Houston. She detailed how the industry must overcome hydraulic fracturing's significant environmental image problems by undertaking basic research into risks and treating or re-using the massive amounts of water required.

David Steele, group managing director of delivery at Australian engineer WorleyParsons, examined a key industry shift to execution logistics from technology in a session on project delivery. For many owners, global relationships will become more important, and contractors can better compete by demonstrating location-specific knowledge, he said.

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