Special Report: Why Qatar could extend its gas moratorium

30 May 2008

Despite the moratorium on new exploration activity, which effectively locks international firms out of Qatar’s giant North field, there is still plenty happening in the state’s energy sector. Four new offshore exploration rounds are being launched and the oil majors are jostling to gain new acreage.

Shell’s Pearl GTL project at Ras Laffan is making great strides towards meeting its target of producing 140,000 barrels a day by 2012. And the official opening of the Dolphin pipeline from Qatar to the UAE, with a connection to Oman to open later in 2008, is another major achievement.

But some of the most interesting developments are occurring outside the state. Qatar Petroleum International has been active over the past 18 months, negotiating deals with Italy, France, Mauritania and Tunisia. A partnership with Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas producer, is on the horizon.

By Doha’s admission, it must now enter a period of consolidation where these nego-tiations need to be developed. The more value Qatar can extract from other markets, the further it can afford to preserve its own resources.

Although the gas-rich state faces pressure to boost production and supply new markets, it is using its newfound popularity to further its own investment ambitions - a strategy that should pay dividends well into the future.

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