Australia's oil and gas workers enjoyed the highest average salaries in the industry last year because of a skills shortage, with expatriates pocketing US$171,000 (NZ$205,000) a year, a study shows.
Despite uncertain global economic conditions, wages in the oil and gas industry rose globally by 8.5 per cent in 2012 to US$87,300, Hays Oil and Gas Job Search reported.
That follows an average increase of 6.5 per cent in 2011.
"There would be few industries with such a track record of growth over the last few years in what has been, in the most part, an uncertain economic environment," the report said.
World oil production in 2012 grew by 2 per cent from the previous year to 89.17 million barrels per day and was expected to increase 1 per cent this year, the United States Energy Information Administration said.
Expatriates in Australia topped the list, and Norway came second, according to the survey, conducted among more than 25,000 employees. Among local hires, Australians workers were also the highest earners, with an average wage of US$163,600.
"At the top of this year's table, we once again see Australia and Norway. Both countries have limited skilled labour pools and significant workloads. The result is very high pay rates," the report said.
Australia is preparing to become one of the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporters, with A$190 billion (NZ$235b) in projects under way.