Qatar plans to increase gas production despite sanctions

A liquefied natural gas tanker at Ras Laffan in northern Qatar. AP

The head of Qatar Petroleum, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, while addressing a press conference said the country intends to raise the production of natural gas to 100 million tons a year by 2024.

Gas-rich Qatar, which is facing isolation from its neighbors amid an ongoing diplomatic rift, on Tuesday, announced plans to boost production of liquefied natural gas by 30 percent over the coming years.

State-run Qatar Petroleum said the anticipated production increase stems from a decision to double output from a new gas project on the southern portion of its vast underwater North Field, which Qatar shares with its neighbor Iran.

The country's current production is 77 million tons of LNG, which means that the expected increase in production will be 6 million barrels per day. Its timing is likely to be seen as achieving political gains instead of economic. On Monday, Qatar delivered to Kuwait its response to the list of demands issued by the four Arab countries.

The announcement comes as the Gulf faces its worst diplomatic crisis in years after Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a sweeping embargo on Qatar last month.

In relation to the gas output hike, Al-Kaabi said Qatar wanted the increase to form part of a joint venture with global companies.

"Regarding the. possibility of embargo countries asking some of the worldwide companies or contractors not to work with us, we absolutely do not have any issue with that".

"Of course if there were to be an additional escalation, I can not say that we will never stop the gas", he said.

"The companies that choose not to work with us - that's fine, that's their choice".

According to updated info found on Qatar's RasGas' website, the North Field is the largest non-associated natural gas field in the world, with recoverable reserves of more than 900 trillion standard cubic feet or around ten percent of the world's known reserves.

"If there are no companies willing to work with us, we will do the 100 million tons", Al-Kaabi insisted.

In 1997, when its first shipment of LNG sailed to Japan, Qatar's exports were valued at around $5bn.

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