DARWIN, AAP – Construction work is set to start on a huge US fuel storage depot in the Northern Territory to support military operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

The $270 million project capable of holding 300 million litres will be the largest purpose-built fuel storage facility in northern Australia.

It will be built at East Arm, about 8km from the city on Darwin Harbour, and store military-grade fighter jet fuels in 11 tanks.

“The Territory is becoming a leading hub for defence and national security because of our strategic location and capabilities,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Tuesday.

The US government awarded the fuel storage tender to global logistics company Crowley in September.


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Crowley’s Australian subsidiary will manage the development and ongoing operations at the facility.

Initial work at the site includes clearing the land and developing vehicle access ahead of construction, which is set to start at the end of the month.

The project will create about 400 jobs during construction and support an additional 20 employees once the facility is operational in late 2023.

“These collective efforts will allow Crowley to provide important fuel storage and management services to the US military, as well as strengthen our growing presence within Australia,” Crowley Solutions Vice President Sean Thomas said.

Construction at the site comes amid growing military ties between Australia and the US and increasing tension in the Asia-Pacific region.

Defence has also recently built two eight-million litre fuel storage tanks at RAAF Base Darwin.

About 2000 Marines have been posted to the NT during the mid-year dry season for most of the past decade.

The US Air Force also conducts training operations in northern Australia.

Two supersonic heavy B-1 Lancer bombers soared into the region in November from an Indian Ocean military base to conduct training missions with the Royal Australian Air Force.