GasPro ’14: Fluor sees possible labor shortage in US Gulf, British Columbia LNG

Borsos FluorBy Ben DuBose
Online Editor

HOUSTON -- The abundance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in North America planned for the US Gulf Coast and British Columbia regions is threatening contractors with a potential shortage of craft workers, an executive with Fluor said in new comments this week.

Steven Borsos, vice president of LNG at Fluor, said the significance of the problem will likely depend on the speed of government approval processes.

“It will be interesting to see how many projects come through for the Gulf Coast and what the timing is,” said Borsos, who delivered Wednesday’s keynote address at the GasPro North America conference.

“It could be a fairly easy transition, where we finish with Sabine Pass [LNG] and then move onto something else,” he added. “But it could also be that if all these projects come to fruition in a fairly short timeframe, we’ve got a massive problem on Gulf Coast.”

As of today, 17 LNG-export projects have been proposed to the US with a combined total of 23.2 bcf/d of capacity. However, only three of those – Sabine Pass LNG, Cameron LNG and Freeport LNG, representing 6.3 bcf/d of output – have been fully approved.

Of those latter three, only Sabine Pass LNG is presently under construction, Borsos explained.

“Right now, we’re in good shape,” he said, adding that the current Gulf Coast regional demand is about 106,000 craft workers. “But it just depends on the pace going forward.”

Looking ahead, the Fluor executive says it is not clear what the market will bear and how many of the proposed LNG projects will be fully approved by the US. But in the interim, there are some steps that contractors can take to prepare themselves for a potential worker shortage.

One step is to consider fabrication yards. Another, he said, is to attract craft workers from US Midwest and Northeast states with the lure of better opportunities on the US Gulf Coast.

“You can also better train your existing US craft by establishing site training facilities and using established regional training centers,” Borsos advised.

A similar labor problem could transpire in Canada’s British Columbia province, he noted, where multiple LNG projects being constructed simultaneously could require foreign labor to support current schedules.

“It’s hard to envision where the labor comes from without using at least some foreign workers,” he said.

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