(EnergyAsia, May 23 2014, Friday) — Western Australia state must embrace the economic and employment opportunities provided by the floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) industry to build international competitiveness and attract the next wave of resource investment, said a senior official of the country’s petroleum association.

The fast developing FLNG sector and its technology have the potential to underpin Western Australia’s development as a major global energy producer, said Stedman Ellis, chief operating officer of APPEA’s western region.

He estimates that one FLNG vessel could deliver up to 1,000 skilled, well-paid jobs and around A$12 billion in tax revenue during its 25-year operating life. It could also generate around A$45 billion in economic activity and up to A$200 million every year in maintenance and supply contracts for local companies. (US$1=A$1.05).

Citing a report by APPEA’s Economics and Industry Standing Committee, Mr Ellis said:

“The high cost of building major gas projects in Australia is one of our industry’s biggest challenges. FLNG provides an attractive development option for monetising offshore resources.

“We simply cannot afford to reject floating technology, because in some cases it may be the only viable means of developing some of our offshore gas.

“The committee’s report acknowledges this reality and effectively challenges the State and Commonwealth governments and the oil and gas industry to work collaboratively to ensure that FLNG delivers maximum benefits to the state and the nation.”

Even without the FLNG investments, Australia is emerging as a global natural gas powerhouse poised to overtake Qatar as the world’s leading LNG supplier later this decade. It is building seven LNG projects worth a total of A$190 billion, and considering a few more to add to the three projects built over the last 25 years.

According to consultant EnergyQuest, four of the projects, Chevron’s Gorgon, BG’s Queensland Curtis LNG, Gladstone LNG and Australia Pacific LNG, will start up this and next year.

The existing projects include North West Shelf, which produces 16.3 million tonnes/year since starting up in 1989, Darwin (3.7 million t/y, 2005) and Pluto (4.3 million t/y, 2012).

According to APPEA, the A$50-billion North West Shelf project is owned by Australia’s Woodside, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, Shell and Japanese consortium MIMI. The A$1.5 billion Darwin project is owned by ConocoPhillips, Inpex, Eni, Santos, Tokyo Electric and Tokyo Gas while the A$15.3 billion Pluto project is owned by Woodside, Kansai Electric and Tokyo Gas.

Another seven large LNG projects are at various stages of development. Four draw from gas fields off the north coast of Western Australia (Gorgon, Prelude, Wheatstone and Ichthys) and three are in Queensland state (Queensland Curtis LNG, Gladstone LNG and Australia Pacific LNG).