PERTH, Australia, April 8 (UPI) -- The Australian energy sector is in the midst of a sea change, with investors retooling their strategies to focus on unconventional gas, industry officials said.
Andrew Latham, vice president of exploration for energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie, said Australian exploration is dominated by frontier areas and long-term natural gas projects, two areas where he said the industry is losing interest.
"Australia's established unconventional gas industry is likely to rank highly, when benchmarked against other unconventional plays outside North America," he said Monday at an energy summit in Perth.
Australia is a premier exporter of liquefied natural gas from conventional reserves. Several Asian countries have secured long-term natural gas supply contracts from companies operating in Australia.
Rob Cole, chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, said development costs were inhibiting growth within the country's energy sector. Latham, meanwhile, said parts of the country may hold some of the more promising basins of unconventional gas in the world.
"Australia's shale plays are still far from achieving such scale, but we forecast that 2014 will be the most active year for international shale drilling yet," he said.