CHEVRON is on track for first LNG sales from the Gorgon project this year and a 2016 startup for Wheatstone, company chairman John Watson has said.

Speaking to analysts following the release of its full year earnings, Mr Watson said the company was also predicting it would generate first gas from the project by the middle of 2015.

“There is nothing that’s a higher priority for us right now than that,” he said.

“We have been monitoring very closely contractor performance and productivity on the island. We are working with the unions on contracts and industrial relations,” he said.

“We have been able to manage through those things fairly well, and we are planning for a flawless commissioning and start-up process.”

In an update released in January, Chevron reported that 13 of the 17 modules that made up Train 2 at the Gorgon project were in place.

Construction was complete on three of the project’s four condensate tanks, while only installation of the loading arm was outstanding on the jetty.

“We’ve got risks of adverse weather that are there but look, we are shooting to get gas into the system in the middle of the year timeframe and get some cargoes out this year. That’s our focus,” he said.

The company’s deal with SK LNG Trading – for 4.15 million tonnes of LNG over a five year period from 2017 – had put Chevron in good shape, he said.

“(The deal) gets us up into the range where we feel pretty good about the projects Gorgon and Wheatstone where we will basically be at our target for sales,” Mr Watson said.

“We will be between 75 per cent and 80% on Gorgon and 85% for Wheatstone. So we feel in pretty good shape,” he said.

The company had reported a US$2.2 billion fall in its full year earnings to US$19.2 billion for 2014, on the back of lower oil prices, though these were offset in part through improved downstream results and higher gains on asset sales.

“We enter 2015 with the financial strength to meet the challenges of a volatile crude price environment and with significant efforts underway to manage a lower cost infrastructure and capital spend rate,” he said.

Chevron holds a 47 per cent stake in the Gorgon project, with ExxonMobil and Shell each holding 25% stakes. Osaka Gas (1.25%), Tokyo Gas (1%) and Chubu Electric Power (0.417%) also hold stakes in the project.