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Shell joins Qatar's ‘giant’ gas project

By AFP - Jul 05,2022 - Last updated at Jul 05,2022

Qatar's Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al Kaabi (right) and Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden hold a signing ceremony at QatarEnergy headquarters in Doha, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

DOHA — Shell joined Qatar Energy's $29 billion project to expand production at the world's biggest natural gas field on Tuesday, becoming the fifth and final international partner.

The British-based company took a 6.25 per cent stake for an undisclosed sum, joining TotalEnergies, Eni, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil in the North Field East project.

The North Field expansion is the biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project ever seen, Qatar Energy said. It comes at a time of intense geopolitical tensions over energy supplies.

The $28.75 billion development is predicted to increase Qatar's production from the current 77 million tonnes a year to 110 million tonnes by 2027.

"As one of the largest players in the LNG business, [Shell] have a lot to bring to help meet global energy demand and security," said Qatar's Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, who is also the Qatar Energy president and CEO.

Qatar Energy estimates that the North Field, which extends under the Gulf sea into Iranian territory, holds about 10 per cent of the world's known gas reserves.

The project's LNG — the cooled form of gas that makes it easier to transport — is expected to come on line in 2026.

The project has taken on growing international importance after Europe's energy supplies took a hit following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

South Korea, Japan and China have been the main markets for Qatar's LNG.

But since an energy crisis hit Europe last year, the Gulf state has helped Britain with extra supplies, and also announced a cooperation deal with Germany.

Europe has in the past rejected the long-term deals that Qatar seeks for its energy, but the Ukraine war has forced a change in attitude.

Qatar's gas is among the cheapest to produce and has fuelled an economic miracle in the tiny archipelago, which boasts the world's highest GDP per capita.

Qatar is also expected to announce details of another expansion, the North Field South, in coming months.

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