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August 2, 2023

Qatar natural gas production and exports stable as country eyes expansion

Qatar annual natural gas supply by disposition
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics; International Gas Union, World LNG Report 2022

In 2021, Qatar was the world’s sixth-largest dry natural gas producer, the second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, and the third-largest holder of natural gas reserves, according to the data in our recently updated Country Analysis Brief: Qatar.

Qatar’s government plans to increase LNG export capacity and natural gas production through a major expansion in the North Field that is expected to be completed by 2028. Expanded North Field natural gas production is expected to offset declines from mature fields and will increase overall natural gas output in Qatar.

State-owned Qatar Energy plans to gradually increase the country’s export capacity to 19.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) when the six new liquefaction trains linked to two new North Field LNG export terminal projects enter commercial service. Between 2011 and 2021, natural gas export capacity remained unchanged at 13.3 Bcf/d.

Qatar's total natural gas exports include its natural gas exports through the Dolphin Pipeline to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. In 2021, Qatar shipped 2.04 Bcf/d via the Dolphin Pipeline.

Qatar’s natural gas production grew at a rate of 18% per year between 2003 and 2013, but growth slowed to a rate of less than 1% per year between 2013 and 2021. Many producing natural gas fields reached maturity during the latter period, and no new production came online, reducing growth. Qatar’s dry natural gas production averaged around 16 Bcf/d between 2016 and 2021. Qatar holds 11% of the world’s proved natural gas reserves and almost 30% of the Middle East’s reserves, according to the Oil & Gas Journal. Qatar’s vast natural gas reserves are primarily in the giant offshore North Gas Field, known as South Pars, which is located on Iran’s side of the Persian Gulf.

Qatar sent more than 70% of its LNG exports to Asia and 25% to Europe in 2022, according to Kpler tanker tracking data. High electricity demand in Asia has resulted in high natural gas demand in Asia. Global natural gas supply uncertainty because of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and curtailed pipeline natural gas supply to Europe have increased Asian demand for LNG exports from new projects since 2022, such as those in Qatar.

Qatar is planning to expand its presence in the global LNG market as it shifts its emphasis from oil markets. Qatar, one of OPEC’s longest-standing members, left the organization in January 2019, saying the country wanted to shift resources away from oil to natural gas, according to press reports. Qatar’s crude oil production fell 18% between 2012 and 2017. Crude oil production in Qatar has remained relatively flat since then, hovering around 600,000 barrels per day.

Principal contributors: Candace Dunn, Kimberly Peterson