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Qatar Sees Interest for Gas Projects to Help Beat Crisis

Qatar Sees Interest for Gas Projects to Help Beat CrisisQatar Sees Interest for Gas Projects to Help Beat Crisis

US and European oil majors are filing in with offers to help Qatar develop new gas projects, the country’s energy minister said, despite a protracted crisis in the Persian Gulf region and pressure on firms to chose between Qatar and its neighbors.

Mohammed al-Sada told Reuters that Doha had seen unprecedented interest from majors, as Qatar seeks to expand its gas capacity to 100 million tons a year from the current 77 million to cement its position as the world’s largest exporter, Reuters reported.

“Both US and EU majors have shown great interest. We did expect this, but they surprised us on the upside by the degree of keenness,” said al-Sada, when asked whether firms had expressed concerns about potential pressure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE not to cooperate with Qatar.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut ties with Doha in June, saying Qatar backed terrorism. Qatar rejected the accusation. Reuters reported last year that Qatar’s traditional partners ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total, which helped turn the country into a gas superpower, had all shown interest in new projects. The companies are also heavily present in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“We have newcomers too,” said al-Sada.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have presented demands which, Qatar says, would amount to surrendering its sovereignty if implemented. The dialogue between the former allies has been effectively frozen over the past six months despite mediation attempts by the United States.

“We are happy to sit down with everyone, but with one message in mind: Preserving our sovereignty is a paramount condition,” said al-Sada.

The crisis has prompted Qatar to abandon plans to supply more gas to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is now looking for new markets for its liquefied natural gas.

“LNG is not a regional commodity. We can reach all corners in the world unlike via pipelines which are restricted from point A to B and are crossing geopolitically challenging areas,” said al-Sada. “We turned challenges into an opportunity. Internally, we rationalized for better efficiency,” he said, citing the merger of Qatar’s two top gas companies QatarGas and RasGas as an example.

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