The partners behind the development of the Block D exploration and production concession in Qatar hope to start producing gas by 2015, the country’s energy minister tells MEED.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Opec conference held in Doha on 17 May Abdullah bin-Hamad al-Attiyah said that state energy firm Qatar Petroleum and its partners on the scheme, China National PetroChina Company Limited (CNPC) and UK/Dutch Shell Group were planning seismic studies of the concession.

“It should be ready in about five years’ time [by 2015],” he said. “Then we will have a phase one of production.”

Al-Attiyah declined to comment on the likely cost of the project or the volume of gas that the partners hoped to produce at the concession.

Block D, which is situated near to the industrial town Ras Laffan, covers more than 8,000 square kilometres of both onshore and offshore territory.

Although the concession’s gas reservoirs being targeted sit below the giant North Field, the partners will not produce from Qatar’s biggest natural asset, a moratorium on development from which is in place until 2015.

Shell and PetroChina signed up to the 30-year exploration and production sharing agreement for Block D on 16 May, the UK/Dutch energy major said in a statement on the same day. Shell will act as operator for the block, and holds a 75 per cent interest in the concession, with CNPC holding the remainder.