By Martin Dokoupil
World's top natural gas exporter hit by a slump in natural gas prices - official estimates.
Qatar's nominal gross domestic product fell 4.3 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, hit by a slump in natural gas prices, preliminary official estimates showed on Thursday.
The world's top natural gas exporter has been enjoying strong growth rates, unlike the rest of the region, keeping its oil and gas output unchanged despite a fall in oil prices from last year's record highs.
The OPEC member's economy plunged 29.7 percent from a year ago in nominal terms with GDP reaching 67.9 billion riyals ($18.7 billion) in current prices, the authority said.
"LNG (liquefied natural gas) prices declined by an overall 31 percent in line with international pressures on the LNG industry as a result of the 2008 financial crisis," the office said in a statement.
"Oil price recovery offset the decline through raised prices of condensates," it added.
Manufacturing GDP fell 4.7 percent in the second quarter on a quarterly basis, while the key gas sector was down 19.6 percent. The oil sector was up 36.1 percent, the data showed.
Qatar's annual economic growth should reach 9 percent in the current fiscal year, which started in April, and accelerate to 16 percent in the coming year, the country's ruler said earlier this week.
The cash-rich state is expected to keep outperforming key players in the world's top oil producing region - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - in the coming years thanks to massive expansion of its gas facilities.
Qatar's four new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants will double the capacity of the country, which is the world's richest nation in per capita income, by the end of this year.
The International Monetary Fund is forecasting the OPEC member economy will expand by 11.5 percent in the calendar year of 2009 and by 18.5 percent next year. (Reuters)