CANBERRA, Australia, June 25 (UPI) -- Investment in Australia's liquefied natural gas sector will boost the country's gross domestic product growth by 2.2 percent by 2016, a new study indicates.
The Deloitte Access study, commissioned by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, says Australia is on track to become the world's second largest exporter of LNG, after Qatar. Australia now ranks fourth worldwide for LNG exports.
"This report demonstrates how Australia's gas industry has become a crucial driver of national prosperity," APPEA Chief Executive Officer David Byers said in a statement.
"And rather than having dire impacts upon other industries, or being responsible for the 'hollowing out' of other sectors, the report shows the benefits of this enormous LNG investment flow far and wide."
Australia's $185 billion worth of oil projects -- including those under construction and others that are in advanced stages of planning and approval -- collectively account for about 35.4 percent of all business investment in the country, Byers said, and if all oil and gas investments are realized, will represent more than 64 percent of all committed investment in Australia.
Australian government policies, the report says, should steer away from local content rules requiring oil, gas and mining companies to purchase equipment or services from domestic companies rather than from foreign companies whose prices might be cheaper.
"The continued expansion of Australia's oil and gas industry represents incredible opportunities to all Australians," Byers said.
Noting that the projects will create jobs that cannot be filled solely by Australian workers, however, the report calls for an open approach to labor migration -- or fly-in, fly-out workers -- which it says is more efficient than building big residential centers close to gas projects.
But unions say hiring foreign workers will undercut Australian wages and conditions as well as deny jobs to local workers.
Peter Voser, chief executive officer of Shell, in an interview with the Australia Broadcasting Corp. said Australia's productivity is a "real concern" and the company would need to import foreign workers for its Australian operations to remain competitive.
The company is on course to become one of the largest investors in Australia over the next five years, spending about $30 billion on resource projects.
"This is an area of high interest to us and is a concern for the longer term competitive nature of Australian gas projects, which are already today some of the most expensive ones and in order to stay competitive for Australia, some measures have to be taken here," he said.