Posted on April 07, 2011

Qatar's oil and gas industry's relationships with foreign energy companies have succeeded beyond expectations in the past, bringing benefits to Qataris and the company's shareholders, the Business and Investment in Qatar Forum in New York was told late Wednesday.

The future looks as promising based on mutual benefit to both sides, said Qatar's Minister of Energy and industry HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada. Less than two decades ago such an extensive partnership with major international energy companies would have been unthinkable, said Al-Sada. "Qatar has developed from a small gas producing country to the leader of liquified natural gas (LNG) in he world," he said.

By the time Qatar approves all its natural and LNG gas projects by 2015 it will make Qatar the third largest overall gas producer behind only Russia and the U.S.,he said. "This would not have been possible without planning and our long-term international and the underlying infrastructure" they have built, the minister said. Oil production has also recovered after a decline in the 1990s, Al-Sada said. Qatar produced 400,000 barrels of crude a day in the early nineties, which after a period of decline, "was reversed and today we have over twice that figure," he said, again with the help of international partners.

Likewise, Qatar's petrochemical industry has grown from a small producer to the one of the world's main fertilizer and petrochemical makers, the energy minister said. "We have great ambitions for the petrochemical industry especially in niche products," Al-Sada said and this could be helped by small and large joint ventures. "The infrastructure is mature and past experience" in dealing with foreign companies makes such an invitation for new partnerships possible, he said. Al-Sada expected that some of these partnerships might form during the 20th World Petroleum Congress to be held in Doha from 4 to 8 December.

He said 4,000 delegates, including energy ministers and chief executives of oil and gas companies are expected to attend. For his part, the U.S. deputy energy secretary, Daniel Poneman, told the conference at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel, that the U.S.-Qatari relationship was "extremely important" and now had a "depth and history" based on a "common security cooperation and perceptions,...a .robust commercial component...and the cultural and education" achievements of Qatar. Poneman said Qatar was "deadly serious" about pursuing "with vigor a knowledge-based society."

But Poneman said that a relationship could not remain static and needed to grow. A sign of that growth was the memo of understanding that he was to sign later on Wednesday with Qatari Science and Technology Park executive chairman Dr. Tidu Maini. Poneman further said Maini's "understanding of business matches his scientific achievements." The U.S. cooperation with the science park will include joint research and development projects that will be "critical" for the domestic markets of both Qatar and the U.S. as well as having "wider implications for the region."

''The join project will focus on alternative energy development, including improving electricity storage and carbon capturing, especially important to the U.S. because it burns coal for electricity, Poneman said. Elaborating Poneman said that when he travels to Qatar he asks U.S. chief executive what problems he should raise but invariably he is given "warm and positive responses." Jakob Thomassen, the chief executive of Maersk Oil, on his part, spoke of his companies very strong relationship with Qatar dating from a risky venture it undertook in 1992. "We took on an asset that our competitors thought was unviable because it was deemed not possible to extract and make money," Thomassen said.

But the gamble paid off. Maersk is now producing 300,000 barrels a day and have passed one billion barrels produced since the project went on line, he said. "There are many more billions to come," Thomassen said. "We did it with avery strong relation with Qatar Petroleum," he said. For his part, Andy Brown, executive vice president and managing director of the GTL project of Shell Oil in Qatar, said Shell had invested $18 to $19 billion in what is the largest investment in Shell''s history. "Eight years ago no one had anything in Qatar, and we are now the largest investor" in the country, Brown said. He praised the cooperation with Qatari authorities.

"The infrastructure they put in place, the transparency and speed of their decisions have been exceptional," Brown said and also explained how a major foreign oil company has put back into the local community, according to Qatari government desires. Brown said Shell has created a welfare system for its 40,000 employees in Qatar that is "second to none in the Middle East." "Qatar leads the way in creating an environment where that is possible," he said in conclusion.

source: QNA