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Qatar's Strategic Shift to Natural Gas: Key Insights

Qatar, home to 11% of the world’s proven natural gas reserves and almost 30% of the Middle East’s reserves, is strategically reshaping its energy sector.

In January 2019, the nation, one of OPEC’s longest-standing members, left the organization to shift its emphasis from oil to natural gas. This was reflected in a decline of 18% in Qatar's crude oil production between 2012 and 2017, which has since remained relatively flat at around 600,000 barrels per day.

In 2021, Qatar established itself as the world’s sixth-largest dry natural gas producer, the second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, and the third-largest holder of natural gas reserves.

Qatar, home to 11% of the world’s proven natural gas reserves and almost 30% of the Middle East’s reserves
Qatar's LNG exports have demonstrated a global reach

The country's natural gas production experienced an annual growth of 18% between 2003 and 2013.

However, from 2013 to 2021, growth decelerated to less than 1% per year due to maturing fields and a lack of new production. Despite this, Qatar's dry natural gas production maintained a steady average of around 16 Bcf/d from 2016 to 202, according to EIA.

Qatar’s vast natural gas reserves are primarily located in the giant offshore North Gas Field, also known as South Pars on Iran’s side of the Persian Gulf.

In an effort to boost production, the government plans to expand the North Field by 2028. This expansion is projected to offset the declines from mature fields and increase overall natural gas output.

In alignment with this plan, state-owned Qatar Energy aims to increase the country’s export capacity to 19.7 Bcf/d. This will be achieved by initiating commercial service of six new liquefaction trains linked to two new North Field LNG export terminal projects. It's noteworthy that between 2011 and 2021, Qatar's natural gas export capacity remained stable at 13.3 Bcf/d.

Qatar's LNG exports have demonstrated a global reach, including exports via the Dolphin Pipeline to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. In 2021 alone, Qatar shipped 2.04 Bcf/d through this pipeline.

Furthermore, in 2022, over 70% of its LNG exports were shipped to Asia and 25% to Europe, reflecting high electricity and natural gas demand in these regions.

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