A new report has revealed the extraordinary size of Australia’s gas industry supply chain for the first time – from offshore technicians in the North West of WA to gas fitters and gas bottle retailers in the suburbs of our biggest cities.
Highlighting the depth and scale of the gas industry supply chain’s economic and social contribution, just over 165,000 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs were directly supported as well as about 47,000 businesses.
Western Australia had the most direct jobs at almost 69,000 FTE roles, followed by Queensland at over 31,000, Victoria at almost 29,000, NSW with about 14,000 and NT and SA with about 11,000 jobs each.
Another 95,000 jobs nationally are indirectly supported by the supply chain – meaning a total of just over 260,000 jobs across Australia are directly and indirectly are supported in total.
The study, Economic and Employment Contribution of the Australian Gas Industry Supply Chain: 2020-21, was prepared by Australian Economic Advocacy Solutions for the Australian Gas Industry Trust (AGIT).
The jobs are held by workers like Broome-based seafarer Shannon Sibosado, 39, who is about to start training as an offshore crane operator after upskilling himself with industry-backed indigenous training programs.
“I do vessel maintenance on the boats that transport rig supplies, plus maintaining the rigs with things like safety systems,” Mr Sibosado said.
“I wasn’t really aware of the gas industry until I was in it. It was all around me but I hadn’t really clicked that these types of jobs were here.”
The study also reveals how youths are supported with a pathway to employment, with about 2,200 young Australians in apprenticeships and traineeships last financial year.
The gas industry’s supply chain directly provides 1.8 in every 100 jobs nationally – with the NT leading at 11.4 jobs per 100 jobs, followed by WA at 7.3 per 100 positions.
AEAS said in its report: “The key finding of this report is that the gas industry supply chain is crucially important to Australia – creating employment opportunities and driving activity.
“In regional areas, the gas industry acts as a foundation for prosperity across many townships due to supply chain spend and the livelihood provided to employees and their spend that this delivers to local businesses.”
The study found the industry generates $55 billion in direct economic activity and pours $18.2 billion into federal, state and local government coffers in taxes, rates, fees and royalties annually.
One in every 54 Australian workers relies on gas for their income, earning an average annual salary of $90,200, compared to the national average wage of $67,902.
The study was welcomed by AGIT, which said it demonstrated how deep the industry was involved in the community.
AGIT Executive Officer Dr Jen Thompson said: “We are everywhere – across our regions and across our suburbs – and all Australians benefit in some way from gas and the supply chain.
“This shows the gas supply chain is intrinsically part of our communities and one of Australia’s biggest drivers of employment and economic activity.
“Three cents in every dollar of economic activity in Australia can be linked to the supply chain, which is enabling $470 billion in economic activity in Australia every year as an essential energy source.”
On the east coast, Aaron Houston is another industry worker as the operations manager at Townsville’s Gas In A Flash outlet in Garbutt.
“In Townsville we employ five people,” he said. “We employ 17 or 18 people statewide.
“We supply gas to households, businesses for industrial use and we also supply service stations with the exchange gas bottles.”