DOHA: Qatar Petroleum, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter and main source of Qatar’s huge wealth, plans to expand internationally, the Gulf state’s energy minister said Thursday.
QP businesses account for over half of Qatar’s gross domestic product and about three quarters of export earnings, with Qatari gas exports earning around $8 billion a month.
But a self-imposed moratorium on further development of Qatar’s one big gas field is forcing QP to expand abroad to maintain market share as LNG supplies from U.S., Australian and African producers rise over the next few years.
“Our new vision is to be a world-class oil and gas corporation with its roots in Qatar and a strong international presence,” Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada said at the launch of a strategy plan.
“We will augment our presence worldwide, in addition to improving sustainability at home and adding to our industrial sector here with a number of mega projects,” Sada told reporters.
An expansion abroad would likely see the state-owned company buying assets abroad, as it is unlikely to expand organically given its small size.
Qatar declared a moratorium on development of the North Field in 2005 to study the impact of a rapid increase in output.
The moratorium is set to remain in place until at least 2015.
By that time, former leading Qatari LNG buyer, the United States, is expected to start exporting its own LNG, while a wave of Australian projects are due to start supplying Asia – which currently buys about half Qatar’s gas exports.
Qatar Petroleum International’s global growth to date has been very limited, and the Qatari leadership wants to see QPI extend its reach.
Banking sources said last month that QP plans an initial public offering of around 3.2 billion riyals ($880 million) of petrochemical assets bundled together under a company called Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co.
Sada declined to talk about the petrochemical IPO plan but said that there were no plans to float QPI on the stock exchange.
“No, we are not thinking of doing that,” he said.
Sada, also the head of QP, added that the Denmark-based Maersk had signed a 750 million riyal deal Thursday to supply two drilling rigs to Qatar Petroleum contractor Gulf Drilling International.