Speaking on the same platform, QP project finance manager Abdulrahman al-Shaibi said the company’s strong earnings growth had enabled it to pre-pay a significant portion of its debt and to consider reducing the debt portion for forthcoming projects.

Jaidah said that assuming all the projects planned to be carried out in 2005-10 go ahead, the total amount of reserves that would be used up over the next 25 years would amount to 172 tcf, or only 23 per cent of the new figure for total reserves. He said that some 63 tcf will be used for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, 45 tcf for petrochemicals, 45 tcf for gas-to-liquids (GTL) schemes, and the remaining 19 tcf for domestic energy needs.

Al-Shaibi said QP had made net income of $2,100 million in 2001, on total sales of about $8,600 million. In light of these strong cash flows, QP had decided to reduce its total debt by 25 per cent through the pre-payment of some of its loans. He also said that QP is likely to include a higher equity component in new projects. He said most QP schemes had been carried out with a debt-to-equity ratio of 70:30, but in future the debt component could be reduced to as low as 55 per cent. The company might also consider refinancing some of its existing credit facilities in light of the upgrading of Qatar’s and QP’s ratings to A- by Standard & Poor’s of the US, said Al-Shaibi (see Economy).

Over the next five years, QP is considering projects with a total investment of $15,000 million, Al-Shaibi said. The target for lifting LNG exports to 35 million tonnes a year could be reached as early as 2008, he said. LNG exports in 2001 were about 13 million tonnes, including spot sales.