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Transforming trends

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The Middle East constitutes 43% of the world’s total proved gas reserves and with such vast resources available one would think that the region is self-sufficient in fulfilling its energy requirements. However, some countries in the Middle East still need to import piped gas or LNG.

Qatar and Iran are the major gas suppliers in the region. With huge existing proved gas reserves, Qatar is able to supply more than 30% of LNG to most gas-deficit regions in the world. However, new impending LNG supplies from the US and Australia threaten Qatar’s position as the ‘king of LNG exports.’

Iran has immense gas reserves, but its hydrocarbon development has been slow as a result of international sanctions, which stem from Iran’s nuclear programme. Therefore, a lack of foreign investment and technology has paralysed Iran’s natural gas production growth. This has, in turn, interrupted Iran’s ambition to build LNG infrastructure.

Although Saudi Arabia is the fifth largest holder of proved natural gas reserves, almost all of the associated gas is consumed to produce crude oil.

Meanwhile, on the demand side, a huge gap is created between the domestic gas supply and demand. Countries such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have plans in place to start importing huge volumes of LNG to meet the growing gas demand. The big question is why is there the need for importing LNG when inter-regional piped gas could be a more viable option for these countries? Going forward, new trends of LNG imports are shaping up in the Middle East.

Qatar – powerhouse of LNG supply

Qatar’s colossal proved natural gas reserves stood at 853 trillion ft3 at the end of 2014. It is the third largest country in the world to possess such vast reserves (after Iran and Russia). The robust gas production profile in Qatar stems particularly from the largest non-associated gas field in the world – the North Field, which was discovered in 1971.

Qatar Petroleum, a state owned national oil and gas company, controls the hydrocarbon developments in Qatar. Its gas subsidiaries, Qatargas and RasGas, maintain the LNG market in conjunction with seven joint venture companies.

Qatargas and RasGas together operate a total of 14 trains with liquefaction capacity of 10.29 billion ft3/d. With high volumes of LNG production, Qatar has been on the global map as the largest LNG exporter. The powerhouse dominates the LNG supply as it has the advantage of being located central to the major gas consuming regions, such as Asia and Europe. Consequently, Qatar has been able to....

This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of LNG Industry. To read the full version of this article, sign in or register for a free subscription.

Written by Rasholeen Nakra, Frost & Sullivan, Canada. Edited by

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