Deepwater Oil & Gas DrillingDeepwater drilling will help Australia overtake Qatar as the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2017, according to a report by GBI Research. The study says regional demand has spurred Australia to intensify deepwater drilling for natural gas from the country’s abundant offshore reserves.

Australia’s offshore drilling expenditure in 2011 was $1.9 billion—$1.3 billion of which was dedicated to deepwater drilling hydrocarbon production. GBI Research predicts deepwater drilling production will grow to $2.5 billion by just 2016, while shallow water expenditure will exhibit minimal growth, increasing by just $0.06 billion during the same period.

The Australian government has been strongly promoting the usage of LNG as a primary source of fuel for heavy goods transport along its highways, spurring on further investments by creating a consistent demand, according to GBI Research. Woodside Petroleum and Apache Corporation are the top lease-holders in offshore Australia, holding leases for 55 and 53 blocks respectively in 2011, followed by Santos, Chevron and BHP Billiton, with 27, 25 and 22 blocks, respectively.

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www.gbiresearch.com