Today in Energy

February 25, 2011

Qatar accounts for a growing share of LNG exports

Qatar exported 1,800 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2009, about 20% of total global trade, based on analysis in EIA's recently released Qatar County Analysis Brief. Qatar's annual LNG exports are equivalent to 8% of U.S. annual marketed natural gas production. Qatar has 14% (896 Bcf) of the world's estimated proved natural gas reserves and is the world's leading supplier of LNG. Qatar, located in the Persian Gulf, is also a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and produces about 800,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil.

Qatar has grown rapidly as an LNG exporter. It began exporting LNG in 1997 and increased exports to current levels in less than 15 years. Japan, South Korea, and India accounted for 57% of Qatari LNG exports in 2009. European markets including Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Spain imported an additional 33% of Qatari LNG in 2009.

North American LNG imports have been relatively low in the last two years. In 2010, Qatar exported an estimated 46 Bcf of LNG directly to the United States – 11% of total U.S. LNG imports – and also exported an estimated 74 Bcf to the Canaport LNG terminal in Nova Scotia, Canada, most of which served as supply for New England.

Very large investments in infrastructure underpin Qatar's LNG export growth. Qatar has 13 operating LNG trains – liquefaction and purification facilities at an LNG plant – with a total LNG capacity of 3,400 Bcf per year. Five of these trains were added in 2009 and 2010. The most recent addition started commercial service in November 2010 and has an annual production capacity of 380 Bcf per year – currently the largest-capacity production train in existence.

Qatar is also a significant liquids producer. EIA's preliminary estimates for 2010 indicate a total liquids production of about 1.4 million bbl/d: 850,000 bbl/d of crude oil and 590,000 bbl/d of non-crude liquids. Estimated crude oil production capacity exceeded one million bbl/d in 2010. Condensate and natural gas liquids (NGL) are rising as a proportion of Qatar's total petroleum production over time. EIA estimates that condensate and NGL production almost doubled from 2007 to 2010, from 287,000 bbl/d to 567,000 bbl/d.