I'm willing to bet that you can recite a litany of projects that have captured the attention of the energy world over the past several years. Included would surely be U.S. shale gas, the tar sands of Canada, and deepwater drilling in Brazil's Santos Basin.

This week, energy folks are focused on what stands to be a huge natural gas project off the coast of northwest Australia. The Gorgon liquefied natural gas field will be developed by Chevron (NYSE:CVX), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A). Chevron has a 50% stake in the project, while the other two companies each have one-fourth.

On Monday, Chevron, as the project operator, announced that the companies had agreed to ante up AU$43 billion ($37 billion) for the first phase of the project. It will involve the construction of a plant on Barrow Island. Work will begin immediately, such that production can come on stream in 2014.

The certainty that the project would go forward increased substantially in August when PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) said it would purchase 2.25 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually from the field. That deal followed another agreement to sell LNG to India. And last week, other deals to sell gas from the project to South Korea and Japan were cut. As such, Gorgon will be a boon to Asian gas needs for decades to come.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean pegs the increase in Australia's gross domestic product from Gorgon at AU$65 billion and predicts that it will add about AU$40 billion in revenue flow to the government during the next 30 years. It also is expected to employ about 10,000 workers during the construction phase.

But the project is not without its drawbacks. Part of the negative fallout will involve sopping up resources -- human and otherwise -- from other planned natural gas projects on the continent. For instance, Inpex Holding of Japan and France's Total (NYSE:TOT) are attempting to begin a joint venture, the resources for which could be in short supply. And ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) is attempting to get a project going with its Australian partner Origin Energy. That pair also hopes to begin delivering gas in 2014, although at this point their customer list is blank.

My suggestion to Fools is to watch this fascinating natural gas explosion develop in Australia. And with its overall position and leadership of Gorgon, I'd keep an especially close eye on Chevron.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial interests in any of the companies mentioned above. He welcomes your comments. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy contains absolutely no gas.