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Australia’s oil and gas sector has continued to grow over the years, making a potentially compelling opportunity for investors focused on energy supply.

Australia's oil and gas sector has historically played a significant role in the country's economy, and the nation contributes a modest but important amount to global supply.

Australia is active in many parts of the oil and gas industry, including the production, extraction and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), crude petroleum and condensate.

They all contribute strongly to the nation's economy, and provide a variety of ways for investors to get exposure to the market. Read on to learn more about oil and gas in Australia and how to invest.


Oil and gas in Australia: Sector performance in recent years

2020 was a historically bad year for the oil and gas sector, with the pandemic causing a drastic decrease in consumption. In turn, this drop in global demand caused prices for oil and gas to plummet.

However, in 2021, the industry experienced a much-needed rebound, with the Dow Jones US Oil and Gas Index (INDEXDJX:DJUSEN) shooting up by 46 percent.

According to a US Energy Information Administration report, global oil consumption was higher than the rate of supply for every quarter of 2021. This contributed to rising crude oil prices across the world.

Looking more broadly, the energy sector performed better than all other industries in the Select Sector SPDRs this past year, bringing a total return of 53.3 percent. Upstream companies — firms that produce, extract and process oil and gas — did particularly well in 2021, gaining 127.4 percent on average.

Oil and gas in Australia: Future outlook for the industry

The oil and gas extraction industry grew well over the last year; in fact, the industry has continued to develop consistently over the last decade. Looking from a purely historical standpoint, this suggests future growth will follow a similar trend, but there are many more factors to consider.

As recovery from COVID-19 continues, the oil and gas industry is predicted to keep stabilising as it has over the past year. The Omicron variant didn’t harm oil and gas demand as many investors had worried it would, and for this reason, the sector could return to normal conditions and exceed its pre-pandemic performance.

It should also be noted, however, that many oil and gas firms reduced their capital expenditure and held off on new investment projects during the pandemic. Because production capacity development stagnated, experts are calling for slower growth in the sector over the next five years.

According to the International Energy Agency, petrochemicals will lead demand growth. This includes LPG and LNG; Australia is a significant producer of these and is on track to be a top producer of LNG specifically.

While consumption of oil outpaced production in 2021, it’s difficult to predict if this trend will continue. There are many uncertainties that play a role in the price of crude oil. However, overall liquid fuel consumption is expected to grow over the next few years, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Australia’s oil and gas sector has had significant growth over the last decade, with US$310 billion invested. As mentioned earlier, the country is also on track to become the world’s largest exporter of LNG.

Even though the pandemic temporarily delayed much development, there are many investments and expansions in the works. Additionally, as demand for LNG continues to grow in Asia, many of the key players in Australia’s oil and gas sector have made long-term supply agreements.

Oil and gas in Australia: What to consider before investing

It's important for investors interested in oil and gas in Australia to have an understanding of the global market, but there are also factors specific to the country to keep in mind. Here are a few:

  • Key players — Before jumping into Australia's oil and gas market, it's important to know which companies are the key players. The companies with the largest market share are: Chevron Australia, Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL), Shell Energy Holdings Australia, ExxonMobil Australia, Santos (ASX:STO) and BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP).
  • COVID-19 implications — While the Omicron variant hasn’t caused the drop in oil prices many investors initially feared, it still may be too early to get comfortable. Many areas around the world have put restrictions in place once again to curb the spread. It’s unknown how this will affect the global oil market in 2022.
  • Large hydrocarbon resource — Australia has a significant resource base for hydrocarbons. This means it has a large capacity for producing crude oil, natural gas and natural liquid gas. Because of this, Australia is considered a great prospective destination for global oil and gas investment companies.
  • LNG demand growth Demand for gas energy, mainly led by major Asian countries like China and India, is a good sign for Australia’s gas sector. Thanks to the country’s geographical advantage and production capacity, it has become one of the key players in global LNG output. As demand for this form of energy grows, so will Australia’s oil and gas sector.

Oil and gas in Australia: Ways to enter the market

Australia’s oil and gas sector has continued to grow over the years, and demand for its exports is seen rising. For those interested in investing in Australian oil and gas, there are two main ways to do it.

The first is to invest directly in Australian oil and gas companies. Some of the largest players are mentioned above, and a more complete list can be found by clicking here.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) focused on oil and gas are also a popular option. ETFs that are exposed to Australian oil and gas include the VanEck Vectors Australian Resources ETF (ASX:MVR), the SPDR S&P/ASX 200 Resource Fund (ASX:OZR) and the BetaShares Australian Resources Sector ETF (ASX:QRE).

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Matthew Flood, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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The war between Russia and Ukraine is undoubtedly a key factor in the oil industry right now.

But as Eric Nuttall, partner and senior portfolio manager at Ninepoint Partners, reminded investors, a structural bull market was in place for oil long before the fighting began.

"We were already in a structural bull market before the conflict broke out, and what this is doing is it's fast-forwarding us arriving to the inevitable conclusion," he told the Investing News Network.

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How can Australian investors get exposure to oil and gas? The biggest ASX-listed stocks in the industry are one way to get started.

Oil and natural gas prices have gone on a tear in 2022 as demand for energy hits pre-COVID-19 levels and the war between Russia and Ukraine sparks supply concerns.

Even though global governments are looking to transition to cleaner energy sources, oil and natural gas are expected to be an essential part of the world’s energy mix for years to come.

With compelling reasons to enter the oil and natural gas sector, what's the best way for Australian investors to get exposure? The biggest ASX-listed oil and gas stocks by market cap are one place to start.


Data for the list below was obtained on March 16, 2022, using TradingView’s stock screener. All market cap and share price data was accurate at that time.

1. Woodside Petroleum

Market cap: AU$30.01 billion

As the biggest ASX oil and gas stock by market cap, Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) leads the country in natural gas production and is considered a pioneer in Australia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

In 2021, the company’s natural gas production accounted for 5 percent of global LNG supply, and Woodside recorded full-year net profit after tax of US$1.98 billion for the year. Later in 2022, shareholders are set to vote on a merger with BHP's (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP) oil and gas business.

2. Santos

Market cap: AU$24.47 billion

Australian energy company Santos (ASX:STO) is the country’s second biggest oil and gas producer. The ASX-listed firm supplies its products to markets located across Australia and Asia.

Santos recently partnered with SK E&S and others to jointly develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Australia. “Already partners in the Barossa Gas Project and Darwin LNG, the agreement further strengthens the deep and expanding relationship between SK E&S and Santos,” said Santos Managing Director and CEO Kevin Gallagher in a press release. “We look forward to progressing this partnership to develop and commercialise CCS projects in our region on our path to a lower-emissions future.”

3. Beach Energy

Market cap: AU$3.47 billion

Oil and gas exploration and production company Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) has a diverse portfolio, with onshore and offshore oil and gas production in five basins across Australia and New Zealand.

Early in 2022, the company announced that the first two wells of its offshore Otway Basin campaign had been connected to the Otway gas plant and were delivering gas to market. According to Beach Energy, the new wells have doubled the plant’s production capacity to 180 terajoules per day.

4. Karoon Energy

Market cap: AU$1.21 billion

Global oil- and gas-centric company Karoon Energy (ASX:KAR) has assets in Australia, Brazil and Peru. The company is focused on continued growth through a broad pipeline of exploration and development projects.

After completing its first year as an oil producer, Karoon brought in AU$29.1 million in profit for the first half of its 2022 fiscal year. Its underlying net profit after tax rose from AU$12.9 million in the prior corresponding period.

5. Senex Energy

Market cap: AU$857.37 million

Last on this list of the biggest ASX oil and gas stocks is Senex Energy (ASX:SXY), which touts itself as a low-carbon Australian natural gas producer. The company’s Surat Basin assets in Southern Queensland contribute around 20 petajoules of natural gas per year to the market.

Senex’s results for the first half of its 2022 fiscal year include natural gas production of 10.2 petajoules and sales revenue of $74.1 million, an increase of 65 percent over the same period in the previous year.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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"What I would point out is that the current crisis in Ukraine is not the cause of high energy prices today," he told the Investing News Network. "It's the catalyst that really forced prices up a lot higher, but we were very, very tight beforehand and we're going to be very, very tight here after hopefully some of the situations resolve themselves."

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Sasanof-1 Milestone – Final Regulatory Approval For Drilling
Sasanof-1 Milestone – Final Regulatory Approval For Drilling

Global Oil & Gas Limited is pleased to announce that Western Gas (“WGC”) has provided an operational update on the drilling of the Sasanof-1 exploration well.


Highlights

  • Valaris MS-1 rig has arrived at the Sasanof-1 exploration well location on the North West Shelf.
  • The MS-1 semi-submersible drilling rig completed the 190 NM mobilisation safely and efficiently under tow from the support vessel, GO Spica.
  • While under tow the support vessel, Far Senator, continued logistical support operations, mobilising drilling mud, bulks and supplies from the Port of Dampier.
  • Primary anchors are now being run and will be followed by deployment of the secondary and tertiary anchors, a total of 12 anchors will be set.
  • Once anchoring is complete, spudding of the multi Tcf Sasanof-1 well will commence with jetting of the 36” conductor.
  • This will be followed by drilling the 17-1/2” intermediate hole section.