Already the world’s largest shipper of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Qatar is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to increase its global dominance, despite the economic blockade by some of its Gulf neighbours.

The peninsula state’s main resource is the North Dome gas field, the world’s largest single non-associated gas field, which holds an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet.

Until it was lifted in April 2017, Qatar had imposed a strict moratorium on its further development for most of the past decade.

Last summer, less than a month after the ongoing Saudi-led embargo began, Doha announced plans to boost its LNG production capacity by about 30 per cent to 100 million tonnes a year (t/y) over the next five to seven years, up from 77 million t/y currently. Two designs contracts have already been awarded for new offshore facilities and new onshore LNG production trains.

Petrochemicals footprint

The expansion will not only boost Qatar’s LNG market share; it will also provide considerable ethane feedstock for Qatar Petroleum’s plans to boost its petrochemicals footprint. The state-owned company announced plans in May to build a new complex at Ras Laffan, and invited international companies to submit joint venture proposals.

Slated for completion in 2025, the planned complex will include an ethane cracker with a capacity to produce 1.6 million t/y of ethylene — the largest in the Middle East – along with derivative plants. The engineering design for the new complex should commence shortly.

Qatar’s energy industry has succeeded in weathering the ongoing blockade, and its officials point to the fact that not a single cargo of oil or LNG has been delayed. Nevertheless, potential investors in its LNG expansion will have to carefully weigh the risks of their exposure if the blockade continues in the long term.

This article is extracted from a report produced by MEED and Mashreq titled The Future of Middle East Energy. Click here to download the report