FDI into Brisbane’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector will remain robust and an expected rise in long-term demand for energy from Australia’s key trading partners will continue to attract investors into Brisbane, Steven Silvester, the director of investment attraction at Brisbane Marketing Economic Development Board (Brisbane Marketing EDB) has told fDi Magazine. Mr Silvester said that a vast build out in the LNG sector will continue, despite the fact that slower growth among Australia's main trading partners, such as China, has reduced demand for Brisbane's energy exports. 

“Some $60bn in investments have already been locked in [to the LNG sector] and companies such as Adani Group, which is an Indian firm, still have their projects moving forward,” said Mr Silvester. “Companies that are currently investing in Brisbane are looking at the long term, and we in Queensland are quite lucky that we still have a huge build out going on.”

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Pointing to UK-based Shell’s $20bn joint venture with Chinese oil major PetroChina, which formed the Arrow Energy company in Brisbane to focus on the extraction of coal seam gas for conversion to LNG, Mr Silvester said that UK-based companies have shown a high interest in maintaining their operations in Brisbane. Anglo American, another UK-based mining company has headquartered its metallurgical coal business in Brisbane, and UK oil company BP have also established significant operations that are focused on crude oil refinery. “We are really confident that Brisbane will maintain its growth,” said Mr Silvester. “We are a stable location and that is why companies will continue to invest for the long term.”

In 2012, Australia’s economy experienced a mining boom that was centred on Queensland, and the value of Queensland’s resources sector grew from $22.8bn in 2000 to $36.5bn in 2012, according to Brisbane Marketing EDB. However, FDI into Brisbane’s coal, oil and gas sector has been tapering off in recent years. Between 2003 and 2013, Brisbane attracted eight projects into the coal, oil and gas sector, which were worth $140m, according to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets. At its peak in 2010, the sector attracted four projects worth $88m, this figure declined to two projects worth $14m in 2011, and no investments were recorded in 2012 and 2013.

This slowdown has been offset, however, by rising FDI in the transportation, communications, and software and IT sectors. fDi Markets found that the transportation sector attracted the most capital investments in Brisbane between 2003 and 2013, with investments worth $721m. Greenfield FDI into the sector grew by a further 30% in 2012.

FDI projects in the communications sector grew by 714% in 2012, and FDI into the software and IT sector increased by 22% in the same year. Mr Silvester expects that diversified FDI in the region will enable Brisbane’s economy, which is worth A$135bn ($123.2bn), to increase to A$217bn by 2031. And far from being driven just by its natural resources industry, growth will occur in a range of other industries.

“We have witnessed a lot of capital coming into several industries,” said Mr Silvester. “We have promoted the hotel, tourism, energy, food and agriculture industries. We have seen a trend especially from countries in Asia, who are looking at countries such as Australia for their food [security]. We also have great universities in Brisbane which have a positive track record of producing talent. So a lot of companies are coming to Australia because of these opportunities and they will continue to do so in the future.”