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Perth, November 27 AAP

November 27 2012, 3:07PM

Australia should focus on turning Perth into a global energy technology hub, The head of oil and gas producer Woodside says.

Chief executive Peter Coleman said resources and agriculture would still make a big contribution to the Australian economy this century, but Australia's skills and ingenuity would allow the nation to succeed in the Asia Pacific.

"We must ensure that Australia's endowment of natural resources does not create a sense of complacency in the Australian community, the feeling that our prosperity is virtually assured as Asia continues to rise," Mr Coleman told the In the Zone conference in Perth on Tuesday.

He said Perth, where Woodside is based, could be a global leader in oil and gas technology.

"If you think about the work being done by Woodside and others in the industry, it's not hard to visualise a future where Perth is the LNG technology hub of the world," he said.

He also used the example of floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an innovative contributor in the resources industry.

Woodside is yet to make a final decision about proceeding with its controversial Browse gas project in Western Australia, amid speculation partner Shell favours a floating LNG option.

While the nation had benefited enormously from Asia's rapid growth, it had not been by design, Mr Coleman said.

"There's never been a more important time than now for Australia to complete its transition to a high innovation, highly productive economy."

He said the country needed to differentiate itself on quality as the middle class in Asia continued to expand.

One of the key challenges for the oil and gas industry was to unleash creative talent.

Mr Coleman said many senior executives were probably "locked into a certain set of thought patterns".

"Our challenge as an industry is that the guys who are in charge of leading technology and innovation go into fits of anxiety when handed the remote control of their television set," he said.

By Kim Christian