By Sarah Byrne

SHELL announced its $29 million Prelude Darwin Onshore Supply Base opened in conjunction with the launch of the company’s ‘Prelude to the Future’ training and employment program in the Northern Territory.

Operated by Toll Energy, the supply base is used to support Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas facility located in the Browse basin.

Consisting of a 6,500 square metre warehouse, storage and office facilities and work yards the base will house spare parts and equipment to support Prelude’s operations, with the potential to support third party projects.

The first spare parts arrived in November.

National benefits of around $12 billion in taxation revenues and improvement of Australia’s balance of trade by more than $18 billion through LNG, LPG and condensate exports are forecast.

The project is expected to create 350 direct and 650 indirect jobs.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Territory to get a slice of the offshore gas maintenance pie, expanding local job opportunities in this industry of the future,” chief minister of the Northern Territory Adam Giles said.

In conjunction with the jobs created by the Prelude project, Mr Giles launched the ‘Prelude to the Future’ training and employment program targeting disadvantaged Territorians.

Charles Darwin University are running the training program as part of their partnership with Prelude FLNG joint venture, the Northern Territory Government and Group Training Northern Territory.

‘Prelude to the Future’ will run for two years and provides training for up to 20 auto-mechanic apprentices.

“Automotive mechanics are identified as a skills shortage area in the Territory. Given this is an occupation that underpins the delivery of most major project activities, it is expected the occupation will be subject to increased demand in coming years,” Mr Giles said.

Indigenous Territorians, minority groups, unemployed, people in financial hardship, trade assistants looking to develop their skills and school leavers are some of those eligible to apply.

Year 10 is the minimum required level for all applicants, however the university said they will be flexible to support anyone seeking to apply.

The program provides participants with 20 weeks of training, six weeks work experience and ongoing mentoring for 18 months.

On completion of the program, participants will be assisted in looking for a place with a company to complete their apprenticeship.

The program is designed to support the facility, although Shell hasn’t agreed to take on any of the apprentices prior to completing the program.

“The warehousing facilities are around exportation and that kind of thing, having discussed with Shell, Group Training Northern Territory and the Department of Business we have worked out the best apprenticeship line is to go with a mechanics stream. In the first year the competency is aimed across automotive, when it comes to the second year they can stream off into heavy vehicle, light vehicle, machinery, or road transport, so it’s going to be something in automotive that down the track could support the Prelude facility here,” Charles Darwin University, head of trades Justin Busse said.

Charles Darwin University will provide mechanical, numeracy and literacy training in conjunction with Group Training Northern Territory’s mentoring program which supports participants with job applications.

Mr Busse said based on the success of similar programs supported by the university in previous years he is confident the majority of participants will find a placement to complete their apprenticeship.

Participants will be paid a wage and provided with work wear and equipment.

“The key to this program is that it helps unlock the potential of a group of people who typically face significant financial and educational hurdles limiting their employability,” Mr Giles said.

Applications closed in December, with the program set to commence in January.