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Total in pole position to secure Qatar gas deals

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Reuters are reporting that Total is well placed to take a lead role in helping Qatar expand output from the world's largest gas field, due to its involvement in the Iranian side of the shared deposit.

That puts Total ahead of rivals like Exxon and Shell in the early running for developing the expansion.

Total signed a deal this month to develop the South Pars field, as Iran's part of the shared reserves are known, becoming the first oil major to return to the country since the lifting of sanctions.

As details of that agreement were finalised, Total was careful to keep Qatar in the loop.

Besides Iran and Qatar, Total also has large projects in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar lifted a self-imposed ban on development of the North Field in April and recently announced that it would raise gas output capacity by around 30% to 100 billion m3.

The move was widely seen as a show of strength in its dispute with Gulf neighbours and Egypt.

Qatar has built its gas export power over the past decade with support from global oil majors including ExxonMobil, Total, and Royal Dutch Shell.

The projects have generated billions of dollars for Qatar and its Western partners and the planned expansion to its gas capacity would make Qatar even more dominant in the gas market.

Total's role in Qatar is set to grow significantly after it won a 30% stake in 2016 in a new 25-year contract to operate its largest offshore Al-Shaheen oilfield.

With Qatar's gas production costs among the lowest in the world, being a part of any expansion would give Total a strategic advantage over rivals in the fast-growing global LNG market.

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