Qatar’s decision to step up annual liquefied natural gas (LNG) production capacity by 43% to 110mn tonnes within five years was among the energy sector highlights of 2018, a year in which the country also opted out of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), which it joined in 1961, one year after the organisation's establishment.
The new LNG capacity increase will further strengthen Qatar’s leading position as the world’s largest LNG producer and exporter, and will further boost Qatar Petroleum's (QP) strategic growth plan.
This production jump is expected to have a great impact on Qatar’s economic growth and help stimulate the country’s local economy.
The capacity enhancement will be achieved through four LNG trains, each one of nearly 8mn tonnes per year capacity. LNG delivery from the new project is expected either in end-2023 or early 2024, HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi said in September.
The new project will produce about 32mn tonnes per year (mtpy) of LNG, 4,000 tonnes per day of ethane, 260,000 barrels per day of condensate, and 11,000 tonnes per day of LPG, in addition to approximately 20 tonnes per day of pure helium.
This will increase Qatar’s total production capacity from 4.8mn to 6.2mn barrels of oil equivalent per day.
This year Qatar also announced its plans to build the Middle East’s biggest ethane cracker, which will be part of a new world scale petrochemicals complex at the Ras Laffan Industrial City.
The petrochemicals complex will include an ethane cracker with a capacity of more than 1.6 mtpy of ethylene, making it the "largest ethane cracker" in the Middle East, and among the largest in the world.
The petrochemicals complex will also include world-class derivative plants, which will consolidate Qatar’s position among the leading petrochemicals producers in the world markets.
Earlier this month, QP entered into an agreement with Italy’s Eni to acquire a 35% participating interest in three offshore oil fields in Mexico.
The agreement covers the Amoca, Mizton, and Tecoalli offshore oil fields, which lie in Area 1 in Mexico’s Campeche Bay.
The agreement, however, is subject to customary regulatory approvals by the government of Mexico. Following such approval, both Eni and QP will jointly hold 100% interest in the Area 1 production sharing contract, according to QP.
The deal marks another milestone for QP as it strengthens its international footprint and expands its presence in Mexico.
This is the second presence for QP in Mexico. At the end of January this year, QP won exploration rights in five offshore blocks in the Perdido and Campeche basins as part of a consortium comprising Shell and Eni respectively.
In line with its growth plans, this opportunity represents another step in implementing QP's strategy to expand its international footprint, and to pursue Latin America as an important core area for its upstream activities.
QP's international upstream footprint has been expanding recently in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cyprus, Congo, South Africa, Mozambique and the Sultanate of Oman.
In September, Qatargas announced a long-term sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with PetroChina International Company Limited to supply China with around 3.4mn tonnes of LNG a year.
Under the 22-year agreement, which ends in 2040, Qatargas will supply LNG from the Qatargas 2 project, a joint venture between QP, ExxonMobil and Total, to different receiving terminals across China, with the first cargo to be delivered later this month.
Qatargas made inaugural delivery of LNG to Pavilion Gas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pavilion Energy in April this year. The shipment was delivered to the Singapore LNG Receiving Terminal on Jurong Island onboard the Qatargas-chartered Q-Flex vessel ‘Al Oraiq’.
On January 1, 2019, Qatar will formally withdraw from Opec. The decision to withdraw from Opec was announced by al-Kaabi in Doha on December 3.
Qatar was the first country to join Opec after the five founding nations – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – formed the group in 1960. It’s the first Middle Eastern nation to leave the group.
Qatar is Opec’s 11th-biggest oil producer, accounting for less than 2% of total output.
"Qatar's decision to exit Opec is not political, it was purely a business decision for Qatar's future strategy towards the energy sector," QNA quoted al-Kaabi as saying.
He had also said the global oil market will not be affected by the move, since Qatar "is not a high volume producer of oil”.
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