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Qatar Invites Big Oil to Bid For LNG Expansion Projects

Qatar has invited international oil and gas majors—including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and Total—to file bids for the expansion of the Qatari part of the world’s largest gas field and the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Minister of State for Energy Affairs, told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. 

Qatar has announced plans to increase its LNG production capacity by 43 percent—from 77 million tons annually now to 110 million tons a year in five years’ time. The new export capacity includes expansion projects set to be completed in 2024. Qatar will be competing with Australia and the United States over the next few years for the world’s top LNG exporter title.

Qatar aims to award by the end of this year the contracts for work on the North Field, which Qatar shares with Iran and which Iran calls South Pars, said Al-Kaabi, who is also the president and chief executive at state-held Qatar Petroleum.

“In the first quarter, we would have secured all the contracts for construction to start production in 2024,” Al-Kaabi told Bloomberg.

Qatar has selected a few “big players” which it has invited to submit bids, he said.

Last month, Al-Kaabi told Reuters in an interview that Qatar Petroleum had shortlisted several Big Oil firms willing to buy a stake in Qatar’s mega project to expand its LNG export capacity, and would look at what the majors could offer in exchange for a piece of the project.

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Qatar has already sent to international oil companies invitations to bid on the mega project, and if it decides to do it with partners, it will announce the decision in early 2020, Al-Kaabi told Reuters.

Until Qatar raises its LNG export capacity, LNG facilities in Australia are ramping up production and exports and reach full capacity, which will result in Australia consistently exporting more LNG than Qatar within the next year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says.

Australia will be the next top LNG exporter, but it will likely retain that title for just a little while, as both Qatar and the United States plan major expansions in their LNG export capacities over the next five years.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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