Qatar’s gas drives remarkable economic growth

30 January 2013

Now the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, Qatar’s exploitation of its hydrocarbons resources has transformed its international standing

While it is oil that dominates the energy industry in most countries in the region, in Qatar it is natural gas that has been the principal driver of economic growth in recent years.

Qatar key figures
Oil reserves (billion barrels), 201225.4
Gas reserves (trillion cubic feet), 2012890
Refinery output (thousand barrels a day), 2010288
Exports of oil (thousand barrels a day), 2010711
Exports of refined products (thousand barrels a day), 2010762
Source: EIA

The country does have substantial reserves of oil, with 25.4 billion barrels of proven reserves according to the US’ Energy Information Administration (EIA), but when it comes to natural gas it is in a different league, with proven reserves of 890 trillion cubic feet.

Qatar major projects
ProjectClientSectorValue ($m)
Barzan gas developmentRasGasGas extraction/ production10,300
Gas-to-liquids plant: phase 2Oryx GTLGas processing plant1,500
Plateau maintenance project for onshore facilities (AGX)QatargasGas extraction/ production1,200
Jetty boil off gas recoveryQatargasGas extraction/ production1,000
For further information visit

According to the UK’s BP, these gas reserves are equivalent to 12 per cent of all gas reserves in the world and only Russia and Iran have more. Together, the country’s oil and gas activities account for about 62 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to Qatar National Bank.

North field

The country’s gas reserves are concentrated in the giant offshore North field, which straddles its maritime border with Iran (Tehran refers to its portion as the South Pars field). Exploiting the North field’s reserves has been key to Qatar’s astonishing economic transformation in recent years.

Gas production rose from 4.4 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) in 2005 to more than 14 billion cf/d by 2011 and the country has enjoyed double-digit increases in its GDP every year during that period, ranging from 12 per cent in 2009 to 18.8 per cent in 2011, according to the Washington-based IMF.

Qatar tenders
TenderClientClosing date
Store equipment and personnel at Ras LaffanQatar Petroleum13-Jan-13
Fire-water and foam testing at Dukhan oil fieldQatar Petroleum16-Jan-13
Water storage tank farm in DukhanQatar Petroleum23-Dec-13
For further information visit

The majority of natural gas produced in Qatar is exported in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). In 2011, the country exported 103 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG to 23 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to BP. The most important customers were the UK, which took delivery of 22 bcm that year, Japan with 16 bcm, India with 13 bcm and South Korea with 11 bcm.

Qatar’s LNG production capacity is based at Ras Laffan Industrial City in the north, where two Qatar Petroleum (QP) affiliates, Rasgas and Qatargas, operate a number of liquefaction trains. 

Some gas is also exported via the Dolphin pipeline to the UAE and Oman. In 2011, the UAE bought 17 bcm from Qatar and Oman bought close to 2 bcm.

All this has meant that Qatar has become the world’s largest exporter of LNG and the second-largest exporter of gas, with 12 per cent of the global trade. Russia leads the rankings, accounting for 22 per cent of global exports, most of which are delivered by pipeline.

In comparison to its gas industry, Qatari oil production is more modest, although still significant. In 2011, it produced an average of 1.73 million barrels a day (b/d) of oil, a figure which has risen steadily from under 1 million b/d in 2004. As with gas, most oil production comes from offshore fields, although there is one large onshore field at Dukhan in the west of the country, which produces some 250,000 b/d.

Major international oil companies with a presence in Qatar include China National Offshore Oil Company, France’s Total and the UK/Dutch Shell Group.

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