15/03/2017 10:46 AM AEDT | Updated 15/03/2017 11:43 AM AEDT

Hundreds Of Workers Stood Down From Darwin Gas Project: Reports

A contract dispute between two companies is understood to have triggered the stand down.

The Inpex Ichthys LNG project in Darwin

As many as 600 workers on Darwin's $36 billion Inpex gas project have reportedly been stood down amid reports of a contract dispute between companies building the site.

The ABC reports a contractual dispute between Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Laing O'Rouke -- has the contract to build cryogenic tanks -- is at the centre of the lay-offs.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) spokesman Josh Burling told the national broadcaster he received a phone call early on Wednesday from a Laing O'Rourke representative confirming the layoffs.

"They will be making about 650 direct employees from Laing O'Rouke and a further 200 employees from subcontractors to Laing O'Rourke redundant from the tanks project at Inpex," Burling said.

It is understood a further 200 subcontractors could also be affected.

Word of the reported layoffs comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and members of his cabinet prepare to meet with east coast gas producers in Canberra to discuss energy security.

Northern Territory CFMEU organiser Josh Berlin told reporters in Darwin the news came out of the blue.

"I would imagine (the workers) are not handling it too well at all," he told reporters.

"They've go the to go home now and tell their wives, families, 'No more money coming in. We've got to find more work.'

"Work is scarce at the moment, especially in Darwin itself, so, no, a complete shock."