Energy giants seek role in Qatar’s gas expansion
ExxonMobil, Shell and Total express interest in helping Qatar increase LNG output by 30 percent, sources tell Reuters.
Three of the West’s biggest energy corporations are lobbying Qatar to take part in a huge expansion of its gas production, handing Doha an unintended but timely boost in the Gulf dispute.
The chief executives of ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total all met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha before it announced a plan on Tuesday to raise output of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 30 percent.
Company and industry sources told Reuters news agency that the CEOs had expressed interest in helping Qatar, the world’s largest LNG supplier, with its ambition to produce 100 million tonnes of LNG annually – equivalent to a third of current global supplies – in the next five to seven years.
The companies already have large investments in countries on both sides of the Gulf dispute, and are keen to remain neutral after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Doha on June 5.
Spokespeople from all three firms declined to comment. However, a top executive from one energy major looking into expanding in Qatar said the huge business opportunity was worth the considerable political risk.
“There is only one policy here – you have to behave like a commercial corporation,” the executive told Reuters. “You have to make your choices purely economically and be Qatari in Qatar, Emirati in the Emirates.”
Energy sales have powered Qatar’s rapid rise as a regional player since the late 1990s, and the oil majors’ interest in the LNG expansion underline its longer-term economic muscle during the row with its neighbours.
Qatar’s LNG capacity could be boosted by up to 10 million tonnes per year relatively quickly and cheaply by optimising existing facilities and upgrading a small number of units, a process known as “debottlenecking”, according to a senior industry source.
Beyond that, the expansion would require building new liquefaction terminals, involving significant investments, which the energy giants can offer.