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Qatar emerges as a new king in LNG

Call it by any name, oil is one thing that makes headlines and tops the agenda in any global forum. From G2 to G12, all Gs and non-Gs are concerned about their fuel efficiency. However with crude oil prices jumping the bungee gun with every passing quarter, Hamad bin Khalifa, Emir of Qatar found a route as innovative as could be praised in ivy league b-schools.

When Qatar discovered huge reserves of Liquefied Natural Gas, the western economies did not give it a second thought. Qatar had no gas transport lines to export the gas to other countries. They didn’t bargain for the Emir, did they? Bin Khalifa worked out the most brilliant arrangement to transport Qatar’s gas in, surprise surprise, ships! From an initial start to today, with Russia’s fleet of 10 LNG vessels (capacity of 135,000 cubic meters each), Qatar is able to supply LNG to almost all Asian, European and even American countries. It’s status in the global gas industry? Bin Khalifa has made Qatar the world’s largest producer, with 31.7 million tonnes produced in 2007!

When compared, the natural gas market today is about 60% of the crude oil market; but is estimated to grow by some 25% by 2010 and 35% by 2012. And thanks to the clean fuel initiative clubbed with rising oil prices, LNG seems to see a new dawn altogether. Take for instance, in 2005 Japan imported 58.6 million tons of LNG, South Korea imported 22.1 million tons while in 2004 Taiwan imported 6.8 million tons. Recently in 2006, Spain imported some 8.2 million tons. While the US seems self sufficient with its gas production, the same isn’t the case in Europe.

Qatar has spent billions of dollars with the help of Russia. Qatar is further exploring avenues, in partnership with ExxonMobil, to create petroleum products using gas, instead of crude oil. Further, Qatar has invested $4 billion to build the world’s largest natural gas processing facilities. For all practical purposes, Qatar and the world have only one person to thank for finding out a way in transporting gas where none existed. Crown Prince since 1977 and Emir since 1995, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani rocks!

By:- Sray Agarwal

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