Qatargas, the company behind what is presently the
worlds largest liquefied natural
gas (LNG) production facility, put down roots in 1984 and
is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It was the first company to
start up LNG operations in Qatar, and it remains the largest.
RasGas, the worlds second-biggest producer of LNG and the
only other producer in Qatar, came on the scene in 2001 and now
has seven trains to rival those of Qatargas. The two companies
boast a combined production capacity of 77 MMtpy, with Qatargas
accounting for 42 MMtpy of the total. Fig. 1
shows the robust growth in Qatars LNG production capacity
Fig. 1. Qatars
LNG capacity has expanded
from just over 1 Bcfd in 1996 to more than
Bcfd in 2011.
Qatargas seven LNG
trains are fed by Qatars North Field, which is part of
the South Pars/North Dome natural
gas and condensate field shared by Qatar and Iraqthe
largest nonassociated gas field in the world. According to the
US International Energy Agency, the field holds an estimated
1,800 trillion ft3 (51 trillion m3) of
in-situ natural gas and around 50 billion bbl (7.9 billion
m3) of gas condensate.
Qatargas commenced LNG exports to Japan and Spain in January
1997 with the startup of the Qatargas I project in Ras Laffan Industrial
City. The first phase encompassed three trains with an initial
collective capacity of 6 million tons per year (MMtpy); total
capacity was lifted to 9.6 MMtpy after the completion of a
debottlenecking project in 2005. The capacity gain from the
debottlenecking also helped Qatar overtake Indonesia in 2006 as
the worlds largest LNG exporter. Qatargas I stakeholders
include Qatar Petroleum (65%), ExxonMobil (10%), Total (10%),
Mitsui (7.5%) and Marubeni (7.5%).
The sites second phase, Qatargas II, was the
worlds first fully integrated value-chain LNG venture
when it debuted in April 2009. It has two LNG mega-trains
(Fig. 2), each with a capacity of 7.8 MMtpy,
along with five 145,000-m3 LNG storage tanks. The
project is tied to Europes largest LNG receiving
terminal, South Hook LNG, which is located at Milford Haven in
Pembrokeshire, Wales. The UK sources 20% of its natural
gas demand through this terminal. Some LNG from Qatargas II
is sent elsewhere in Europe and also Asia and the US. Train 4
is a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum (70%) and ExxonMobil
(30%), while ownership of Train 5 is divided among Qatar
Petroleum (65%), ExxonMobil (18.3%) and Total (16.7%).
Fig. 2. Qatargas
LNG mega-trains 4 and 5.
Photo courtesy of Technip.
Qatargas II won several environmental and project development
awards in 2007 and 2008. Environmental sensitivity, as
demonstrated by offshore workers careful relocation of
more than 4,500 coral colonies from the sea floor to specially
prepared ecoreefs, played an important role in the project.
Other environmental precautions include the development of a
common volatile organic compound (VOC) control system to reduce
smog at the Ras Laffan port; smokeless flaring at the LNG
facility; the rescuing and releasing of sea snakes from cooling
seawater pipes; and an extensive recycling program.
The projects efficient and safe development also was
praised. Qatargas IIs 30 wells were completed 27
rig-months ahead of schedule, and the project saw the fastest well
drilling in the North Field14,500 ft of rock in only 33
days. Also, Qatargas recorded 108 days without a single medical
treatment or injury in 2008, which James Adams, former CEO of
Qatargas II, likened to an average family of five going 200
years without needing to see a doctor.
production expanded in November 2010 with the startup of
Qatargas III, which included the construction of another 7.8-MMtpy
LNG mega-train and two subsea pipelines, and the drilling of 33
wells. The pipelines and wells are shared with Qatargas IV, as
the third and fourth phases were designed by a joint asset
development team to capitalize on synergies between the two
projects. Qatargas IIIs Train 6 exports LNG to the US,
Asia and Europe, and is owned by Qatar Petroleum (68.5%),
ConocoPhillips (30%) and Mitsui (1.5%).
The fourth and final Qatargas LNG expansion project, Qatargas IV,
commenced production of 7.8 MMtpy of LNG at its single
mega-train in January 2011. Qatargas II, III and IV utilize Air
Products proprietary APX processing technology, which generates
economies of scale and achieves integration previously unseen in the
LNG industry. Exports from Qatargas IVa joint venture of
Qatar Petroleum (70%) and Royal Dutch Shell (30%)are sent
to North America, the Middle East and Asia.
Other Qatargas developments at the Ras Laffan site include
the 146,000-bpd Laffan condensate refinery, which came onstream in
September 2009 and which processes North Field condensate
produced by both Qatargas and RasGas. The refinery has production capacities
of 61,000 bpsd of naphtha, 52,000 bpsd of kerosine/jet fuel,
24,000 bpsd of gasoil and 9,000 bpsd of liquefied petroleum gas
(LPG). A second, 146,000-bpd condensate refinery is slated to
start up in early 2016. Laffan I refinery shareholders include Qatar
Petroleum (51%), ExxonMobil (10%), Total (10%), Idemitsu Kosan
(10%), Cosmo Oil (10%), Mitsui (4.5%) and Marubeni (4.5%).
Vision for the future
Qatargas aims to become the worlds premier LNG
producer by 2015 through innovation, operating excellence,
corporate citizenship and environmental responsibility. At the
Flame 2012 conference in Amsterdam in mid-April 2012, Qatargas
CEO Alaa Abu Jbara noted, One of the key achievements of
Qatargas has been our ability to maintain reliability in our operations. Thus,
our history of project execution is a key factor in our
continued future success.
Looking to the future, Mr. Abu Jbara believes that
Qatars prominence as an LNG exporter will prevail,
despite predictions that the US (which is rich in shale gas) or
Australia (which is constructing multiple LNG projects) could overtake Qatar as
the worlds largest LNG exporter in the next six to eight
Mr. Abu Jbara asserted, In a world of competition for
long-term energy supplies, access to LNG produced in Qatar is
considered by many as a strategically important component of a
supply portfolio, offering unparalleled security of