Gulf state may further increase its capacity by as much as 10 million tons a year - energy min
Qatar gathered chief executives from the biggest energy companies to celebrate reaching an annual production capacity of 77 million tons of liquefied natural gas, underscoring its rank as the world’s biggest LNG exporter.
The Gulf state may further increase its capacity by as much as 10 million tons a year if it can improve efficiency at its production units, Energy Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah told reporters.
Exxon Mobil Corp’s Rex Tillerson, Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Peter Voser and ConocoPhillips’ Jim Mulva were among the chief executives attending the ceremony at the industrial city of Ras Laffan yesterday.
“If in the future we want to expand, we will expand as a revamp and de-bottlenecking,” al-Attiyah said yesterday, adding that constructing new LNG units would be a costlier option.
While Qatar is recognized as the biggest LNG exporter and holds the world’s third largest natural gas reserves, its gas fields also supply rising volumes of natural gas liquids such as propane, butane and condensate. These products, collectively known as NGLs, have commercial uses similar to crude or refined oil products, boosting Qatar’s overall energy sales.
Qatar will be able next year to pump 1.19 million barrels of NGLs a day, according to a forecast by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. The country’s NGL output will for the first time exceed its production capacity for crude, which the IEA estimates will be 1.02 million barrels a day in 2011. Qatar’s combined capacity for producing NGLs and crude will overtake that of its OPEC partners Algeria and Libya, according to the agency’s forecast.
“It very clearly pushes Qatar up the ranks of oil producers and also -- because of the semi-refined nature of some of these -- the rankings of the refined-product producers as well,” said Lawrence Eagles, global head of commodities research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, speaking in a telephone interview in November.
The tiny nation of 1.6 million people has the third-largest reserves of natural gas after Russia and Iran and is the second- smallest producer of crude in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Ecuador is the smallest. OPEC quotas only cover crude, not NGLs.