Qatar unlikely to debottleneck LNG; moving closer to FID

14 March 2018 15:06 Source:ICIS

Additional LNG production from Qatar may not come online until the mid-2020s after Qatargas shelved plans to debottleneck its existing production at Ras Laffan.

Qatargas will instead build three new greenfield liquefaction trains, rather than two trains as originally planned, said sources with knowledge of the matter.

A final investment decision on the new production is expected in late 2019 or early 2020.

“The new trains will be constructed 100-120km away from the existing facilities in Ras Laffan,” according to Siamak Adibi, head of the Middle East gas team at consultancy FG Energy.

This could mean start-up in around 2025/2026, he said, because additional infrastructure would be required.

Qatar has said it plans to boost LNG production up to 100mtpa.

Last year, Qatar Petroleum said new production could come online between 2022-2024.

Some analysts, however, expect an earlier start up around 2023/2024. But this may only be possible if new production is developed at the existing facility of Ras Laffan.

Qatargas operates 14 liquefaction trains with a total capacity of 77.4mtpa, according to LNG Edge.

Qatar was originally planning in the short term to expand production capacity through improving the performance of its existing facilities, a process known as debottlenecking.

But the risk of production losses during the debottlenecking process, as well as difficulties with changing the terms of partner agreements, were the reasons behind the change in strategy, analysts said.

Qatargas last year employed Japan’s Chiyoda to study the feasibility of the debottlenecking process.


“The news is certainly surprising – debottlenecking was the cheapest way of adding capacity. It pushes things back,” said Andy Flower, an independent LNG consultant.

“Longer term, adding new trains would give greater flexibility, but come with a high upfront cost,” said Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects.

“I don’t think that short-term market share is a central consideration here. Qatar is looking at laying down the groundwork for the next decade,” he added.

Qatar Petroleum is believed to be seeking partners for the expansion. Companies with existing assets in Qatari oil and gas production include major producers Total, Shell and ExxonMobil.

Qatargas did not respond to requests for comment.

By Alex Thackrah