Qatar Petroleum's plans to sharply expand liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity by the middle of the decade remain on track, it was affirmed on Thursday.

Speaking during a webcast organised by the US-Qatar Business Council, HE Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Minister of State for Energy Affairs, said QP, the world's largest LNG producer, will not cut its gas exports due to the weaker demand caused by the coronavirus disease outbreak.

QP wants to lift its LNG output to around 110mn tonnes per annum (mtpa) by 2024 from today's 77 mtpa in the first phase of its expansion.

Those plans remain on course, HE al-Kaabi said. "We're full steam ahead, we're going to expand," he said.

Once the project's capital costs are understood in the coming months, he expects a number of major international companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips to take part in the tendering process, he added.

HE the minister said he expected oil demand to recover to pre-crisis levels only within a year or two, adding that natural gas prices have suffered less due to continued demand for electricity.

The world's top oil and gas companies have sharply reduced spending in the wake of an unprecedented fall in oil consumption triggered by travel restrictions governments around the world imposed to contain the coronavirus epidemic.