By Florence Tan, Lewis Jackson and Emily Chow
SYDNEY, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Chevron's two western Australian plants continued exports of liquefied gas (LNG) on Friday, despite a step-up in strikes and a fault at the Wheatstone plant that cut production by a quarter, shipping data on LSEG Eikon and Kpler showed.
Workers at Gorgon and Wheatstone, responsible for over 5% of global supply,what had been six days of limited strikes. Until roughly the end of September, unions can strike for up to 24 hours each day and refuse tasks like loading tankers.
However, tanker Pacific Enlighten docked at the Wheatstone terminal on Thursday and loaded 140,650 cubic metres of LNG, the data showed. The tanker is controlled by Japan's largest LNG importer JERA and will be heading to Japan. Tanker Macoma loaded a cargo for China at Gorgon on Thursday.
On Thursday, an outage at Wheatstone cut production by about a quarter.
Energy analyst Saul Kavonic said strikes would be most effective at moments like this because restarting equipment required more workers.
"Chevron will try use its unionised workers to restart the equipment, but that can be more challenging and take longer with the less trained smaller workforce," he said.
A union representative who declined to be said workers at Gorgon and the Wheatstone LNG facility stopped work for 12 hours starting Thursday evening. It is clear if this affected efforts to restart Wheatstone and Reuters could independently verify the claim.
Unions have previously said they will strike opportunistically and target LNG exports in particular.
Chevron said restart activities continued at Wheatstone and the company was focused on maintaining safe and reliable operations.
MULTIPLE CARGOES SCHEDULED
The ships due to load at Wheatstone are Asia Excellence on Sept. 18, chartered by Chevron to be shipped to China's Zhoushan port for ENN Energy Holdings Ltd, and Methane Mickie Harper for Japan on Sept. 29, according to Kpler data.
Another four tankers, destined for Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China, are due to arrive at Gorgon in the 10 days, the data showed.
LNG exports from Wheatstone are estimated at 628,000 metric tons in September, 27% lower than August, preliminary data from Kpler showed.
At the Gorgon facility, exports are currently estimated at just over 1 million tons for September, about 30% lower than August, Kpler data showed.
(Reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore and Lewis Jackson in Sydney, additional reporting by Emily Chow in Singapore; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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