feature

creating value in onslow,
western Australia

Residents of the Western Australian coastal town of Onslow describe it as a sleepy and isolated place with a fierce sense of community.

Geoff Herbert, a former head of the Onslow Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), moved to Onslow 13 years ago. “You would literally see tumbleweeds rolling down the street,” he said. “There were hardly any employment or business opportunities in town. Now Onslow is one of the best-placed communities in northwest Western Australia for job and business opportunities.”

Aerial photo of Onslow, Western Australia

Aerial photo of Onslow, Western Australia, where Chevron Australia Pty Ltd has spent more than AU$455 million with more than 90 Onslow-area businesses and organizations since 2011.

what triggered this change?

The answer is a 25-minute drive southwest of Onslow to the Wheatstone Project. Operated by Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, the Wheatstone Project is Australia’s first third-party liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub and one of the country’s largest resource developments.

Plant construction began in 2011, and Wheatstone achieved its first LNG in October 2017. Nigel Hearne, managing director of the Australasia business unit, said, “Chevron Australia is making a significant economic contribution to the long-term future of Australia, with the Wheatstone Project having already spent a combined $17 billion plus—AU$20 billion plus—on local goods and services and having created more than 7,000 jobs during peak construction.”

"We have a track record of more than 60 years of exploration and production in Western Australia and are committed to bringing lasting benefits to the Onslow community and the broader Pilbara region. Beyond energy, we invest significantly in people, projects and communities to unlock potential for progress and prosperity."

Rob Dobrik
Wheatstone Project Asset Manager

economic impact of wheatstone

estimated benefits to Australia over the project’s lifetime

supporting economic development

Chevron Australia’s investment in Australia and Onslow has been substantial. Since 2009, we have spent more than AU$20 billion on local goods and services through roughly 300 contracts with different Australian companies. Since 2011, we have spent more than AU$455 million with Onslow businesses and organizations for site construction contracts and town-based services such as transport, catering, venue hire and general supplies.

At peak construction, the Wheatstone Project created employment for more than 7,000 people. The project is expected to generate more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in Australia over its 30-year life. All told, the project is forecast to add more than AU$180 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product, nearly AU$6 billion per year.

NTC Contracting provides the Wheatstone Project with earthmoving and civil services and was one of the first contractors onsite six years ago. It has employed from 30 to 130 people, depending on project needs.

“There’s more stability in Onslow because there’s a base of long-term employment opportunities,” said NTC Contracting Managing Director Jason Varcoe. “Chevron Australia has great people within its business working hard to ensure local businesses are considered.”

partnering with the community

focus on education and youth programs

focus on education and youth programs

The Chevron-operated Wheatstone Project in Western Australia has been working with organizations to bring services, programs and events to help support and strengthen the local community in Onslow. 

now playing
focus on education and youth programs

4:19

focus on education and youth programs
focus on health and local economic development

focus on health and local economic development

Chevron invests in community health, local economic development and infrastructure projects in Onslow. 

now playing
focus on health and local economic development

2:35

focus on health and local economic development
focus on the future

focus on the future

Through partnership, collaboration and a shared vision, Chevron and the local community will make sure Onslow remains a vibrant and sustainable community for decades to come.

now playing
focus on the future

1:10

focus on the future
focus on education and youth programs

focus on education and youth programs

The Chevron-operated Wheatstone Project in Western Australia has been working with organizations to bring services, programs and events to help support and strengthen the local community in Onslow. 

now playing
focus on education and youth programs

4:19

focus on education and youth programs
focus on health and local economic development

focus on health and local economic development

Chevron invests in community health, local economic development and infrastructure projects in Onslow. 

now playing
focus on health and local economic development

2:35

focus on health and local economic development
focus on the future

focus on the future

Through partnership, collaboration and a shared vision, Chevron and the local community will make sure Onslow remains a vibrant and sustainable community for decades to come.

now playing
focus on the future

1:10

focus on the future

Another business benefiting from the Wheatstone Project is Mackerel Islands Pty Ltd (MIPL), which provides some of the Wheatstone Project’s workforce with onshore accommodations in Onslow, meals and hire vehicles. The business takes its name from the Mackerel Islands, a series of 10 pristine islands and atolls located 20 minutes by boat off the coast of Onslow.

MIPL CEO Drew Norrish said that when the Wheatstone Project increased demand for housing, the business fast-tracked redevelopment plans and expanded its tourism business. Its staff grew from 17 to 42.

Mackerel Islands CEO Drew Norrish

Mackerel Islands CEO Drew Norrish, foreground, with his Onslow Beach Resort team.

The Wheatstone Project’s most significant legacy is better access to long-term tourism opportunities, Norrish said. “Now there’s an airport in Onslow—we’ve been able to overcome the tyranny of distance we once faced. People fly directly into Onslow, stay in high-quality accommodations and visit the Mackerel Islands.”

Published: June 2018