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Mon 12 Jan 2009 09:20 AM

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Qatar can cope if oil drops below $30 - minister

Gulf state's huge production of LNG will help it sustain acute plunge in oil prices.

Qatar is able to withstand a fall of oil prices to less than $30 per barrel because of expanding gas production in the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil minister Abdullah Al Attiyah said on Sunday.

"We adjust with the changes," Al Attiyah said, quoted by the state news agency QNA. He said the fall of crude oil prices would last for "a short period, not several years."

"His Excellency said Qatar can cope (with oil prices under $30) thanks to ... millions of tonnes of increase in the production of LNG in 2009-2011," QNA said. He said Qatar was expected to add 46 million tonnes by 2011 to its current annual LNG production of 31 million tonnes.

Al Attiyah said Qatar may delay some projects that have not been launched yet, but that it would push on with those already started, adding that prices of building materials were expected to fall by up to 40 percent in the next three months.

Oil prices have fallen more than $100 from a record peak of above $147 barrel last July as the global economic downturn hits demand for fuel. Steel prices and demand have also fallen sharply in the face of a global downturn. (Reuters)

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