Australia Oil and Gas Profile
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  • Australia has considerable petroleum and natural gas reserves and is one of the few countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that is a significant net hydrocarbon exporter, exporting about two-thirds of its total energy production. Australia was the fourth largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2009, after Qatar, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
  • Australia’s prospects for expanding these energy exports in the future are promising as Asian demand for LNG is rising along with Australia's proven natural gas reserves. While Australia also exports crude oil and refined petroleum products, it is a net importer of oil.


  • In Australia, upstream petroleum activities occur both onshore and offshore. Responsibility for Australia’s offshore areas beyond three nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline rests with the Australian Government.
  • Responsibility for onshore petroleum operations and as far as three nautical miles seaward of the baseline (referred to as ‘coastal waters’), is the responsibility of the state and territory governments.
  • The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism provides the Australian Government with high-quality upstream petroleum-related policy advice and in cooperation with the states and territories, is the regulator of offshore petroleum activities.
  • Offshore petroleum operations beyond designated state and territory coastal waters are governed by the Commonwealth Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGSA) and related Acts and regulations. Within this legal framework, the Australian Government together with the State and the Northern Territory governments jointly administer the regulatory regime and supervise industry activities through a Joint Authority/Designated Authority arrangement.
  • The OPGGSA came into force in 2008 superseding and repealing the Offshore Petroleum Act 2006 (OPA) and the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 (PSLA). The OPA was firstly developed to replace the PSLA to modernise the offshore petroleum legislation through the use of common use English. The OPPGSA consequently incorporated greenhouse gas legislation.
  • The offshore petroleum legislation, regulations and guidelines provide for the orderly exploration for and production of petroleum and greenhouse gas resources, and sets out a framework of rights, entitlements and responsibilities of governments and industry.


  • The Australian Government encourages investment in petroleum exploration through the annual release of offshore petroleum exploration acreage. The Acreage Release is underpinned by Australia's stable economic environment and well-established regulatory framework for offshore petroleum activities.
  • Australia’s production of oil, condensate and LPG peaked in 2000 and has steadily declined since then. Australia’s gas production continues to grow, meeting growth in domestic and export demand.
  • The majority of Australian petroleum production is sourced from Commonwealth waters adjacent to Western Australia. Production from waters adjacent to Victoria accounts for the next highest share.
  • Western Australia and Victoria remain the largest gas producing states in Australia, while Queensland production, predominantly from coal seam gas, continues to increase its share.
  • Offshore production is becoming more important. The number of exploration wells drilled in offshore waters has remained relatively steady since 1990, while the number of wells onshore has trended downwards over this period.
Australia’s estimated petroleum resources and reserves*
  • Crude oil (mmbbl) 1431
  • Condensate (mmbbl) 2750
  • LPG (mmbbl) 1475
  • Conventional gas (Tcf) 164
  • Coal seam gas (Tcf) 153
  • *Includes economically and sub-economically identified resources. Coal seam gas includes economically, sub-economically and inferred resources.

Active Companies

  • The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association Ltd (APPEA) is the peak national body representing Australia’s upstream oil and gas exploration and production industry.
  • The Association has more than 80 full member companies, all of which are oil and gas explorers and producers active in Australia. These companies account for an estimated 98 per cent of the nation’s petroleum production.
  • All of the oil majors are active in Australia, including Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron, Conoco
  • Australia has a number of large independents, including Woodside and Santos

Crude Oils


  • There are no major oil pipelines in Australia
  • The Dampier To Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline is a 1000 miles long pipeline from two production facilities, the Woodside operated Karratha Gas Plant and the Apache operated Varanus Island facilities to industrial user


  • Australia is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with considerable potential for further development based on its abundant resources of natural gas. Australia is the third largest LNG exporter in the Asia-Pacific region and the fourth largest LNG exporter in the world, exporting 17.9 million tonnes in 2009-10 with a value of around $7.8 billion. The LNG industry is attracting significant new project investment providing major benefits in the form of long-term employment, economic benefits and government revenue.
  • Currently, there are two operating LNG processing plants in Australia, the North West Shelf (NWS) LNG Project in Western Australia and the Darwin LNG plant. The NWS Project has five LNG production trains with a total production capacity of 16.3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) and the Darwin LNG plant's single production train has a capacity of 3.6 mtpa.
  • There are several other Australian LNG projects at various stages of development with the 4.3 mtpa Pluto LNG plant being the most advanced and due for startup in 2012. The massive Gorgon LNG Project (initial 3-train, 15 mtpa production capacity) is also under construction and is due for startup in 2014-2015.
  • Other well-advanced LNG projects that are yet to receive a final investment decision are the Wheatstone, Ichthys and Browse LNG projects.
  • Floating LNG, the production of LNG via a large, barge-like floating LNG production facility, is also under consideration to develop the Prelude field and other smaller offshore gas fields that are distant from either land or existing infrastructure.
  • As yet, there are no operational CSG-LNG projects in the world. However, the Queensland Curtis LNG and Gladstone LNG projects are currently under construction in Gladstone, Queensland. There are also several other proposals for CSG-LNG plants under consideration for Gladstone.

Australian LNG Terminals

Australian LNG Projects


  • Australia has eight major refineries. However, following the mothballing of Mobil’s Port Stanvac refinery in Adelaide, only seven of Australia’s refineries are currently operational.
  • There are four integrated refiner-marketers operating refineries in Australia: BP Australia Pty Ltd, Caltex Australia Limited, Mobil Oil Australia Pty Ltd and the Shell Company of Australia. Australia's refineries were mainly constructed in the 1950s and 1960s but have been extensively modified and upgraded to produce fuels that comply with Australia’s fuel standards.

Australian Refineries

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