Qatar to complete North field study in 2012

Qatar expects to have the results from its study analyzing the effects of its gas projects from the major North gas field in 2012, the nation's petroleum minister told OGJ.

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

VIENNA, Mar. 23 -- Qatar expects to have the results from its study analyzing the effects of its gas projects from the major North gas field in 2012, the nation's petroleum minister told OGJ.

"It is too early to share any results of the study," Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said at the OPEC International seminar in Vienna. North field will be producing 25 bcfd by 2011 once its LNG, gas-to-liquids, and domestic gas projects come on stream.

In 2005, Qatar imposed a moratorium on further developments to ensure optimal reservoir management and the productive life of the reservoir. The moratorium was expected to end in 2008, and several projects, such as the Marathon-Petro-Canada and ConocoPhillips GTL proposal, have been put on hold pending the study's results.

North field, off Qatar in the Persian Gulf, holds an estimated 900 tcf of gas, making it the world's largest gas deposit. The Qatari authorities are determined to implement a production strategy that will deliver gas for its people now without compromising future generations. High costs have been a major barrier for project development, forcing ExxonMobil in 2007 to cancel its Palm GTL plant, which had a proposed capacity of 154,000 b/d.

Qatar is on track to developing an LNG capacity of 77 million tonnes/year within the next 2 years.

South Hook project
Despite weak gas demand amid the global recession, Al-Attiyah said Qatargas, now the world's largest LNG exporter, would proceed with projects underpinned by long-term commitments. Its first commissioning cargo from Qatargas 2 arrived Mar. 20 at the South Hook regasification terminal in Wales (OGJ Online, Mar. 23, 2009). South Hook will deliver as much as 2 bcfd into the UK natural gas grid when it reaches full operational capacity later this year.

South Hook LNG Terminal Co. Ltd. is owned 67.5% by Qatar Petroleum, 24.15% by ExxonMobil Corp., and 8.35% by Total SA. The terminal forms part of the wider Qatargas 2 joint venture, which will supply gas to the UK. It is the world's first full LNG value chain investment. The terminal, which is being completed in two phases, includes five LNG storage tanks, a regasification plant, ship unloading systems, and a jetty to allow berthing of the world's largest LNG vessels.

However, Train 4, with a capacity of 7.8 million tonnes/year at the Qatargas 2 facility, has suffered technical problems at the commissioning stage with key machinery and equipment, and it had been difficult to find the skilled labor to build it. The Qatargas 2 partners previously had said the mega trains would reduce cost because of economies of scale and advanced technologies. Commercial LNG production is expected to start any time now.

RasGas is preparing to deliver its first cargo to Italy in the summer from its newly completed, 7.8 million tonnes/year Train 6. India's Petronet also will take LNG in the fourth quarter of this year. "People are still asking for gas. We have to keep the world supplied and our customers happy," Al-Attiyah added.

More research
Qatargas and Shell have committed to work closely together on researching LNG logistics under a memorandum of understanding. The companies will focus on optimizing supply chains to deliver to LNG global markets. Research will take place at the Qatar Shell Research & Technology Centre at the Qatar Science & Technology Park.

Al-Attiyah said no capacity had yet been set for the proposed refinery and petrochemical complex under study in China. Last June, Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) signed a letter of intent with PetroChina Co. Ltd. and Shell (China) Ltd. to assess the viability of the project.

"We hope to have a complex refinery in 2013," he told OGJ. "It will be world scale and will produce refined fuels and petrochemical products."

PetroChina will have a 51% shareholding, QPI 24.5%, and Shell 24.5%.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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