Demolition delivers great takeaways

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Take three enthusiastic young Woodside engineers, add some close collaboration with an innovative contractor and the outcome is the successful, safe demolition of Gap Ridge Village (GRV).

“The safety record has been most commendable – two minor first aid cases but no recordable injuries,” says project manager infrastructure Marlon Cooray of the five-month-long demolition process. That process, which finished in May, saw more than 99% of the village recycled. “Moreover, the program was executed during cyclone season and following some heavy rains in the area, which presented some extra challenges,” Marlon points out. 

What’s more, he adds, innovation paid off in strategies such as the decision to tender and award to a contractor not previously used. For example, the contractor Ertech sub-contracted a salvage specialist, Brajkovich Demolition & Salvage, which was able to on-sell and recover cost. 

Construction of GRV, to house construction workers for the Pluto Project, started in 2007. At its peak, there were more than 4000 people working to construct Pluto, of whom 2100 were accommodated at GRV. The lease from the State of WA expired this May, and before it expired the Pluto joint venture was obliged to restore the 37ha site to its original condition. That meant not only removing the 675 buildings but also removing all the underground services and rehabilitating the site. 

“Brajkovich basically on-sold everything from frangipani plants to bike racks,” says Marlon. “GRV has basically been distributed to six or seven other camps, plus farmers and the like. Virtually all the infrastructure is being re-used.” This resulted in savings for the Pluto Project, not least because of the big reduction in waste disposal fees. 

Marlon says the other pleasing aspect of the demolition program was that it comprised a high rate of Indigenous participation. Ertech was incentivised to target 20% of the contractor’s workforce to be indigenous, but the final figure was closer to 40%. “The reason we achieved such a high result was the contract incentive was merely the trigger for Ertech genuinely drive to exceed expectations,” Marlon explains. He says Woodside’s corporate and social priorities were spelt out clearly to the main contractor and they were eagerly adopted.

The demolition of GRV also gave three young Woodsiders a great opportunity for experience in managing a project on site. Mechanical engineer Lawson Wylie was one. Now at KGP, Lawson helped set up the project with Marlon who, he says, made it clear very early on that there would be a strong focus on safety. ​

“For example, every negotiation meeting we held even those on commercial matters – started with a safety moment,” Lawson recalls. “We reinforced the workforce as a community and encouraged them to own the whole project, not just their scope. “So we did things like hold barbecues to celebrate a safe work week. “By socialising, the work crew got to know each other better, which led to them having a vested interest in getting their mates home safely at the end of each day.”

Lawson says it was also very satisfying working on a project that contributed to the community through Indigenous employment, recycling and returning the land to its previous state. “I found that good planning and contract management has led to outstanding project delivery and meeting the expectations of government stakeholders,” he notes. 

Construction engineer Stephanie Robson says she learnt from the GRV project that “demolition isn’t always about smashing things”. Stephanie adds: “It can be executed in a very organised and clean manner. “The demolition and salvage contractors are examples of the old saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. This has really opened my eyes to how much we can recycle or reuse if we think about it and get the right people.”

Logistics analyst Josh Taylor says he learnt a greater understanding of contract management, plus he increased his project execution and project management skills. “And on a personal note, I got a taste of working in the Pilbara as a ‘quasi-FIFO’ worker,” Josh adds. 

Marlon says contractor Ertech deserves congratulations for a job well done, including project manager Trevor Mackell. “Trevor has demonstrated good leadership and excellent execution skills in delivering the project and supporting Woodside personnel on site,” Marlon says. 

Marlon says that importantly, Woodside and Ertech agreed a vision and commitments for the project before its start. “We wanted to complete a quality project on time, on budget and feel proud of the positive legacy that we are leaving behind and in the knowledge that everybody made it home safely,” the vision statement read in part. The site is now rehabilitated and Marlon says there is little evidence of GRV ever having existed.  


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Trunkline Q2 2017