Qatar will raise LNG production by 30% to 100mtpa within five to seven years, after lifting a moratorium on gas development earlier this year.
The move would see Qatar retain its position as the world’s largest LNG exporter, seeing off Australia which was on course to surpass Qatari production.
The news comes at a time where this is intense diplomatic pressure on Qatar from neighbouring countries, and comes one day after Iran took steps to progress development of the neighbouring South Pars gas field.
Qatar Petroleum said on Tuesday that after conducting technical studies at the southern part of the North Field, it will double the size of the project to 4 billion cubic feet/day, increasing gas production from the field by 20%, or about 1 million barrels of oil equivalent.
“After further assessment, we have decided that the best way to develop this huge project is by dedicating it to the production and export of LNG, thereby increasing the production capacity of the State of Qatar from 77mtpa to 100mtpa, which means a 30% production increase,” said Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the President & CEO of Qatar Petroleum.
The increase is also more than Qatar previously indicated when it first talked about debottlenecking production from the North Field.
On Monday, France’s major Total signed a final deal for the development of the South Pars gas field in Iran, which the country shares with Qatar. Qatar calls the field the North Field.
The development of an LNG export plant in Iran is seen as potential competition for Qatar but the timeline for Iranian LNG would lag the latest plans from Qatar.
The expansion will also offer stern competition to new greenfield LNG producers, such as those in Mozambique, the US and Canada who will not be able to match Qatar’s low-cost supply position.
In early 2005, the Qatari government imposed a moratorium on the development of the North Field. The moratorium was lifted in April, a week after Iran claimed it would overtake Qatar as the world’s biggest LNG producer.
In late May, Qatar Petroleum signed an agreement with Japanese engineering, procurement and construction contractor Chiyoda Corporation to study the feasibility of de-bottlenecking LNG production at its mega-train complexes in Ras Laffan.
Qatar has been in the international spotlight in the last month, after a number of Middle Eastern countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt broke diplomatic and economic ties.
“The planned production increase will also contribute to monetising Qatar’s resources and to stimulating the domestic economy,” Al-Kaabi said. email@example.com