Qatar is mostly associated with gas production and is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with a capacity of 77 million tonnes a year.

Since 2005, there has been a moratorium on further production from the offshore North Field, the largest non-associated gas field in the world. This means Qatar’s oil and gas sector has been extremely quiet by Middle East standards over the past five years, with few new projects. However, this is expected to change in the next half decade with Doha now preparing to invest billions of dollars to extend the life of its ailing oil fields.

Production agreements

Oil is produced by Qatar Petroleum (QP) in its own right and by joint ventures between the state-owned company and international partners through exploration and production sharing agreements, as well as development and production sharing agreements (DPSAs).

At the Al-Shaheen field, operated by Denmark’s Maersk, capacity reached 525,000 barrels a day (b/d) in 2011, up from just 20,000 b/d in the mid-1990s (although due to technical reasons, production dropped to about 300,000 b/d in late 2013).

A significant hike in capacity to about 100,000 b/d has also been achieved at the Idd al-Shargi field, operated by the US’ Occidental Petroleum under a DPSA. The production sharing agreements on Idd al-Shargi and Al-Shaheen are due to expire in 2016/17, although both are expected to be renewed.

Major oil and gas projects
Project Client Status Value ($m) End date
Bul Hanine field redevelopment project Qatar Petroleum Study 11,000 2028
Barzan gas development RasGas Execution 10,300 2023
Idd al-Shargi North Dome expansion: phase 5 Occidental Petroleum Main contract bid 3,000 2017
Gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant: phase 2 Oryx GTL Study 1,500 2019
Al-Shaheen offshore field work upgrade Maersk Oil Feed 500 2016
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QP has a two-pronged strategy to arrest the decline in its oil fields. On the one hand, it is planning a series of enhanced oil recovery programmes at existing fields, and has signed technical service agreements (TSAs) with three international oil firms. France’s Total has proposed a multibillion-dollar development plan for Bul Hanine in a push to double capacity. The US’ ExxonMobil Corporation holds the TSA for Dukhan and the US’ ConocoPhillips has been assigned the Maydan Mahzam TSA.

Deep wells

QP has also stepped up exploration activity, with a focus on assessing deep prospects below existing fields. In Block BC, located off eastern Qatar, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Total are undertaking a five-year, $100m exploration programme, due to be completed before December 2014. A joint venture of UK/Dutch Shell and PetroChina is also assessing deep gas prospects in Block D, which covers part of the North Field.

Doha is determined to achieve a diversified hydrocarbons industry to complement its gas production, and lengthening the life of its oil assets is the most effective approach.

Minister of oil and gas: Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada

Key contact: Qatar Petroleum

Tel: (+974) 4 440 2000