Australia is set to become the world's biggest liquefied natural gas producer, with analysts predicting it will overtake Qatar by 2020 as it unlocks reserves that could last more than a century.
Seven of the world's 10 major LNG projects are under construction Down Under, with Aus$176 billion (US$183 billion) of private Australian and foreign investment in gas projects since 2007.
"The projects already under development will take us ahead of Qatar. It's just a case of when that happens," Wood Mackenzie analyst Chris Graham told AFP.
Analysts expect Australia to pip the small Gulf emirate, which holds the world's third-largest gas reserves and last year saw LNG production capacity rise to 77 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), by 2020.
But the government is hoping it reaches the target sooner, with China's demand for LNG growing by almost one-third last year, while India's import capacity is projected to triple by 2015.
Australia is already the fourth biggest source of LNG in the world, with three export-operational projects -- Western Australia's North West Shelf and Pluto projects, and Darwin LNG in the Northern Territory.
Indonesia and Malaysia are the second and third largest producers.
But based on projects that are already committed or under construction, Australia's LNG exports -- of 18.9 mtpa worth Aus$11.1 billion in 2011 -- are expected to hit 63 mtpa by 2016-17.