The two-year program, which secured the environmental approvals, involves development of Charlie tenements including construction of 300-400 wells, a large field compression station and associated pipelines and facilities.

The extracted gas will feed into existing gas processing and water infrastructure at Woleebee Creek.

The investment, which is a part of the continuous development of QGC’s tenements in the Surat Basin, is intended to support natural gas supply to domestic customers and to the two-train Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) liquefaction plant on Curtis Island, near Gladstone.

Since commissioning in December 2014, the QCLNG plant has delivered 62 cargoes.

QGC managing director Tony Nunan said: "This is a vote of confidence in the secure, long-term future of Queensland’s natural gas industry, which will employ Queenslanders for many years to come.

"The Charlie development will help to sustain the benefits of our investment in local communities and the state, including up to 1,600 construction jobs and business opportunities during the two-year project."

QGC, which has 73.75% stake in the relevant natural gas tenements, was earlier selected by Leighton Contractors as the main works contractor.

Queensland State Development and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said that the LNG exports in Queensland are expected to hit $15bn by 2016-17.

"By 2018, Queensland could be the world’s fourth largest LNG exporter and, by the end of the decade, Australia has the potential to be the world’s leading LNG exporter.

"Queensland has strong partnerships with key markets like Asia and we’re well-placed to benefit from this and play an increasing role in a global clean energy future."

Image: The Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) project in Australia delivered 62 cargoes since 2014. Photo: courtesy of BG Group.