DMEI is a grouping of seven Japanese companies headed by NKK Corporation. Other members are Hitachi Corporation, Impex Corporation, Nippon Sanso, Idemitsu, Marubeni Corporation and LNG Japan Corporation, which is a joint venture between Sumitomo Corporation and Nissho Iwai Corporation.

DME is used as feedstock for power generation and is considered to be environmentally cleaner than liquefied natural gas (LNG). It can also be used as an alternative fuel to diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and for the production of ethylene and polyethylene.

The proposed gas-based plant will have initial capacity of at least 2,500 tonnes a day and will be increased at a later stage. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by early 2006.

‘We are working on offtake agreements [for the DME] with power utilities in Japan,’ says a project source. The next stage in the project development will be a commercial joint venture agreement, to be signed between Qatar Petroleum, DMEI and TotalFinaElf, and the establishment of a pilot plant.

The DMEI/TotalFinaElf group is the second proposed DME plant venture in Qatar. The first was put forward by the UK’s BPwith a group of state-owned Indian companies (MEED 22:6:01).