The Strategist

ExxonMobil, Total, Shell promise to buy gas from Doha

07/06/2017 - 14:55

Heads of ExxonMobil, Total and Shell supported Qatar’s plans to increase production of liquefied natural gas (LNG), promising to purchase it from Doha. Thus, Qatar received support from major international energy corporations during its conflict with other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatar is already the world's largest LNG supplier and plans to increase its production to 100 million tons per year.

Brian Katt
Brian Katt
Over the past weeks, CEOs of three major oil and gas companies - ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total - met with Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. According to Reuters, citing unnamed sources, the companies showed interest in Qatar’s plans to increase LNG production, promising to buy Qatari gas. On Tuesday, Qatar announced its intention to increase LNG production by 30%, to 100 million tonnes within the next five to seven years. 100 million tons is a third of all current global LNG supplies. Already, Qatar is one the world's largest LNG suppliers (the current level is 77 million tons per year). 

Recall that a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, in early June severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, as they claimed that Doha supported terrorism and extremist ideology. Later, the Arab countries sent an ultimatum to Qatar with a list of requirements, in response to which they were ready to end the boycott. The list includes closure of Al Jazeera TV channel and a compensation. Qatar reacted negatively to it.

Most international oil and gas companies have invested in projects in countries located on both sides of the conflict: according to experts, it is unprofitable for them to occupy one side. As top manager of one of the largest energy companies, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters, the huge opportunities opening for business are worth taking on considerable political risk. "There can be only one policy - to behave like a commercial corporation. When making a choice, you must proceed only from economic reasons," he said.

According to Wood Mackenzie, in 2017 ExxonMobil will be the largest foreign investor in Qatar. The company’s main investment falls on local LNG projects - they account for about 7% of the company's global assets portfolio. Shell agreed with Qatar on the supply of LNG in the amount of 1.1 million tons per year for five years beginning in 2019. "Qatari LNG is really an important part of their portfolios, especially for Exxon, but Total and Shell are also significant players in this market. Qatari LNG is extremely competitive," said Wood Mackenzie’s analyst Tom Ellacott.

In April, Qatar produced 618,000 barrels per day, which is about 2% of the total production. In addition, this small state is considered the most important player in the gas market and is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world. In 2016, Doha exported 77.2 million tons of gas, which is equivalent to one-third of all world supplies.

Most supplies of Qatari gas come from a vast gas field located in the Persian Gulf. According to BP's annual report, only Russian and Iranian reserves are larger than that of Qatar.