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QatarEnergy Expanding in LNG, won’t divert supplies to Europe

AL KHARSAAH :  QatarEnergy is working to expand its gas production and trading operations as global demand surges and will not divert liquefied natural gas (LNG) contracted with Asian buyers to Europe this winter, CEO Saad al-Kaabi said on Tuesday.

QatarEnergy is already among the world’s top LNG exporters and several European states, facing a spike in energy prices and a fuel supply crunch, have been in talks with the Gulf Arab state to reduce their reliance on Russian energy supplies.

“Qatar is absolutely committed to sanctity of contracts… So when we sign with an Asian buyer or European buyers, we stick to that agreement,” Kaabi, who is also state minister for energy, told reporters.

“So the volume that will go to Europe is what has been assigned,” he said. “But as far as taking from Asian buyers to take to Europe (that) will not happen.”

State-owned QatarEnergy, which earlier this year signed deals for stakes in its LNG expansion project, aims to become the world’s biggest LNG trader through organic growth and is already building trading teams, Kaabi said.

“We’re just going to keep building that organically. So we’re not looking at acquiring a company or anything like that.”

Qatar is moving to cement its position as a top supplier as Europe scrambles to substitute the Russian pipeline gas that made up almost 40% of the continent’s imports. Those supplies have plunged since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and Western sanctions against Moscow.

Qatar’s two-phase North Field expansion plan includes six LNG trains that will ramp up its liquefaction capacity from 77 million tonnes per annum to 126 million tonnes by 2027.

QatarEnergy signed deals to sell stakes in the North Field East expansion phase with TotalEnergies, Shell, Exxon, ConocoPhillips and Eni, and last month named TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) as the first partner in the North Field South project.

“Total is a very important company for our partnership here,” Kaabi said. “Internationally, we’re in many places together, in exploration and you’ll see us soon going into more areas together.”

He was speaking after the opening of the Al Kharsaah solar plant project in Qatar, a joint venture with France’s TotalEnergies and Japan’s Marubeni.

Kaabi said QatarEnergy had reserved land for future expansion of the 800 megawatt-peak plant.