Qatar’s deputy prime minister, Abdullah al-Attiyah, has welcomed the recent US shale gas revolution despite the risk it potentially poses to the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry.

Speaking at the MEED Qatar Projects 2013 conference on February 18, Al-Attiyah said that rather than shale gas risking Qatar’s future LNG exports, it strengthened it.

“The increased production of shale gas has been good for the [gas] industry,” he said. “Before shale gas, everyone said that the [conventional] gas industry would only last for 80 years, but now it will last for 250. This means that the gas industry is seen as the one that people want to invest in.”

Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of LNG and has a capacity of 77 million tonnes a year. The Gulf state now sells predominantly to Asian markets where prices regularly fetch over $16 a million BTUs.

Attiyah also said that while shale gas prices in the US were low, the cost would go up if the country wanted to become a serious exporter of LNG.

Al-Attiyah also revealed that Qatar has no further plans to build any gas pipelines to neighbouring states within the Gulf region.

“We have the infrastructure in place now that is effectively a floating pipeline,” he said. “Transporting gas by sea means we can be extremely flexible and are not tied into any unnecessary risks.”