With the world’s third-largest gas reserves, Qatar has established itself as the number one exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with an export capacity of 77 million tonnes a year. The country also produces about 1 million barrels a day of oil.
Building a world-class LNG infrastructure to process its gas has led Doha to invest billions of dollars on its facilities.
Qatar needs the income from its hydrocarbons to fund a $60bn construction boom aimed at building world-class infrastructure across the country.
State-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP) is responsible for the exploitation of the country’s oil and gas reserves. QP signs exploration and production sharing agreements (EPSAs) with international oil companies (IOCs), which in turn carry out the exploration and production in return for a share of the oil and gas.
Partners in QP’s offshore oil and gas fields include US energy firms ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum, France’s Total and Denmark’s Maesrk Oil.
QP’s main offshore activity is the production of gas from its giant North Field. The field is the world’s largest non-associated gas field, spread over 6,000 square kilometres and containing an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The field was discovered in 1971 and commercial production began in 1991 with ExxonMobil as a partner. The North Field is the main driver for Qatar’s LNG exports and produces about 20 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas. QP also operates two offshore oil fields: Maydan Mahzam and Bul Hanine, in the northeast of the country’s territorial waters.
Other field tie-ups include Al-Khaleej with Total, Al-Shaheen with Maersk Oil and Al-Rayyan with Occidental.
The development of the North Field has been quiet recently due to a moratorium on operations at the field that will last until 2015.
The one major development is the Barzan project, a joint venture of QP and ExxonMobil. The scheme aims to produce 6.2 billion cf/d of natural gas over three phases.
The first phase is scheduled to come onstream in 2014, after being delayed in 2009, to benefit from falling construction costs. It involves the construction of two onshore gas processing trains with a combined capacity of 1.7 billion cf/d.
There is also ongoing exploration being carried out in Qatar’s territorial waters.
QP has stated that its most important challenge relates to “accessing modern technology and securing the necessary capital to cover the large investments required for exploration, development and production projects”.
This challenge has been overcome with the EPSAs it has signed with IOCs to develop its oil and gas resources.
Qatar remains wary of overdeveloping the North Field. It is well aware that any overdevelopment could lead to a drop in pressure, which is why Doha has initiated a moratorium on exploration activity until 2015.
Minister of Energy and Industry and Qatar Petroleum chairman: Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada
Main operating company: Qatar Petroleum
Main areas of offshore activity: Gulf
Value of projects planned or under way: $10.55bn