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Qatar: Gulf Dispute To Have Limited Impact On Oil, Gas Trade

The world’s biggest LNG exporter, Qatar—which is locked in a bitter dispute with many of its Arab Gulf neighbors involving restricted port access for Qatari vessels—expects the rift to continue to have a limited impact on its crude oil and gas trade, Qatar’s Energy and Industry Minister Mohammed al-Sada said an at energy event on Monday.

“Despite the illegal siege currently enforced on Qatar, [it] has never failed a single shipment and has not compromised on its longstanding image of being a reliable supplier of energy to all corners of the world,” Platts quoted al-Sada as saying at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul today.

The restrictions for Qatar-owned or Qatar-flagged vessels to call at ports in Saudi Arabia and the UAE would not have a “wide impact” because “total exports in trade to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain account for less than 8%” of Qatar’s global trade, the minister said.

On the other hand, Qatar’s energy trade flows to Asia’s Japan, India, South Korea, and China “remain unchanged”, and account for three-quarters of Qatar’s exports and trade to the four Asian nations that are the drivers of oil demand growth.

“So any short-term efforts will not have a wide impact... This unjust blockade is demonstrating our economic strength, diversity and resilience,” the minister noted, as quoted by Platts.

A month after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and several other states cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, Qatar Petroleum said on July 4 that it plans to raise Qatar’s LNG production from 77 million to 100 million tons per year, within 5-7 years from now.

Moody’s apparently disagreed with Qatar’s benign assessment of the blockade, changing on Monday Qatar’s rating outlook to negative, citing the economic and financial risks arising from the ongoing dispute.

Related: Underperforming Energy Sector May Soon See M&A Wave

“In Moody's view, the likelihood of a prolonged period of uncertainty extending into 2018 has increased and a quick resolution of the dispute is unlikely over the next few months, which carries the risk that Qatar's sovereign credit fundamentals could be negatively affected,” the rating agency said.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE vowed on Friday to take new measures against their tiny gas-rich neighbor after Doha rejected in full the list of ultimatums.

Despite the public threats of “new measures”, Qatar’s Finance Minister, Ali Sharif al-Emadi, told The Times on Friday that Qatar is too rich to worry about what Saudi Arabia thinks, and that their huge financial resources would provide the small gas-rich nation the resources necessary to weather the sanctions.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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