Qatar Petroleum (QP) has signed a 30-year exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) with JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration (NOEX) for a section of the pre-Khuff formation in the North Field, to further boost production at world’s largest known gas reservoir.

Japanese NOEX will make an initial $100m investment to explore the 6,173 square kilometres of pre-Khuff’s Block A over a five-year period.

The agreement is the third for the formation, after QP had signed an EPSA with China National Offshore Oil Exploration (CNOOC) for Block BC, and another for Block D with Shell and PetroChina.

The North Field, located offshore northeast of Ras Laffan Industrial City, is the world’s largest known gas reservoir, with an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet (cf) in reserves.

Qatar is seeking to further boost production at the North Field. An official from RasGas, a joint venture of QP and ExxonMobil, told delegates at the MEED Qatar Projects conference in February that the field will yield 23 billion cf of gas per day by 2015.

The country is already the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, with production hitting 77 million tonnes a year (t/y) in 2010.

According to Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, QP’s director for Oil & Gas ventures, the scope of NOEX exploration work includes exploration technical studies, 2D and 3D seismic acquisition, processing, re-processing and the interpretation and drilling of exploration wells.