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Qatar and Exxon have officially announced a US$10-billion joint investment in their Golden Pass LNG project in Texas, which will turn the LNG import terminal into an export terminal as well, as shale gas production in the United States continues to increase steadily.
Last month, Reuters reported that Qatar Petroleum is looking to invest as much as US$20 billion in LNG projects in the United States over the next few years, citing the company’s chief executive. The investment is separate, apparently, from Qatar’s plans to boost its production capacity at home.
Yet, the US$20 billion won’t be spent just on LNG, Saad al-Kaabi told Reuters in December. Qatar Petroleum will also look into oil production in the United States.
The small Gulf nation, which has been under a blockade from its neighbors led by Saudi Arabia for more than a year now, was until November the world’s largest LNG exporter. In November, Australia took the number-one spot, however, likely motivating Qatar to double down on its production capacity expansion bet.
Spurred by the intensifying competition, Qatar last year announced plans to boost its domestic liquefied natural gas production capacity to 110 million tons annually, all from the deposit it shares with neighbor Iran and calls the North Field, and Iran calls South Pars. Qatar can currently produce 77 million tons of LNG from the North Field and since it looks serious about keeping its top spot in LNG exports, an international expansion would make the most sense.
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U.S. natural gas production, on the other hand, is rising so fast, analysts last year estimated that new LNG projects will result in between 1 and 2.5 million tons of LNG flowing into the spot market in the first quarter of this year alone.
“We see somewhere between 2.0 to 2.5 million tonnes of additional U.S. supplies in the first quarter. We think probably, most of the 2.5 million will be put into the spot market,” Trevor Sikorski from Energy Aspects told Reuters last September.
The Golden Pass expansion will take a while longer, however, with launch of the export facility scheduled for 2024.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.