WOODSIDE Energy will employ about 70 Australian seafarers on an LNG vessel under an agreement with the Australian Institute of Maritime and Power Engineers, the Australian Maritime Officers Union and the Maritime Union of Australia.

In a statement, Woodside said the agreement builds on a co-operative relationship with the unions that dates back to the commencement of LNG exports from the North West Shelf Project in the 1980s.

The new agreement covers the period from April next year through the end of March 2029. Woodside said it “sets a path for a more enduring relationship, subject to Woodside’s aspirations to grow its LNG operations in Australia being realised”.

Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill said the agreement would support the security of supply that underpins the company’s reputation globally as a reliable supplier of LNG while also providing employment opportunities for Australia-based seafarers.

“This agreement reflects our shared interest with unions in ensuring continued opportunities for employment across all aspects of the LNG industry, including shipping, and recognises the Australian government’s interest in strengthening maritime supply chains,” she said.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said LNG shipping has provided many Australian seafarers with rewarding and fulfilling employment working in the national economic and strategic interest of all Australians, for many decades.

“The skills and employment base that the LNG trade provides our industry cannot be understated, and we look forward to building on this and offering more Australian workers the chance to pursue a life at sea,” Mr Crumlin said.

AIMPE federal president Martin Byrne welcomed the agreement and said the parties have also agreed to hold further discussions in good faith with an intent to explore expanding the agreement across future marine operations.

“This is an agreement which lays the foundation for long-term future cooperation in the offshore maritime sector,” he said.

AMOU executive officer Mark Davis said: “The continuity of employment for highly skilled and experienced LNG ships’ officers will benefit all parties to the new arrangement and the opportunity for new trainees to gain international gas ship experience will be invaluable.”

The agreement will support employment of around 70 Australian-resident seafarers on an LNG carrier within Woodside’s chartered fleet. The crew will be employed by the vessel’s contracted crew manager, ASP Ship Management.