Qatar, which has a population of c. 750,000, is ruled by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
The country is a peninsula of just over 4,000 square miles, which juts into the Persian Gulf in the shape of a thumb. Qatar's enormous investment in the development of its gas fields is now earning the country a healthy return. Qatar has good relations with western countries and with other Gulf states. The UK protectorate ended in 1971.
Development of oil & gas reserves
Qatar inaugurated Phase One of the North Field gas development project in 1991. The 6,000-square kilometer off-shore field is supervised by Bechtel and by Technip Geoproduction [France]. The North Field is the world's largest natural gas field, and its exploitation, together with that from smaller fields, makes Qatar the third largest gas producer in the world, after Russia and Iran. Qatar's proven reserves of 1,050 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), 900 Tcf of gas are in the North Field. Gas will become of increasing importance for Qatar's economy. There are two liquefied natural gas exporters - Qatar LNG Company (Qatargas) and Ras Laffan LNG Company (Rasgas).
28th May 2002 His Excellency Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Minister of Energy and Industry announced that "The most recent reservoir studies have proven that the certified reserves for the North Field currently stand at more than 900 trillion cubic feet up from the previous reserve 380 tscf, thus making the North Field by far the largest single gas field in the world.
Agreements have been signed with UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy and Spain to supply these countries with gas produced from the North Field, and the UK will in future take LNG from Qatar as a result of the heads of agreement signed between Qatar and Exxon.
Qatar has proven recoverable oil reserves of 13.2 billion barrels. The onshore Dukhan field is Qatar's largest producing oilfield and Qatar also has six offshore fields. In 2000, net oil exports totaled 796,000 barrels per day, the bulk of which is exported to Japan. (Oil and gas figures from EIA).
Qatar is also considering linking to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dolphin Project, an integrated gas pipeline grid for Qatar, UAE, and Oman. The country is also developing feedstock supplies and added-value downstream petrochemical products, including polyethylene and ethylene.
13 June 2002- Qatar Petroleum, QAPCO, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC and Atofina SA signed three comprehensive joint venture agreements for the establishment of world scale petrochemical projects. three independent projects with distinct ownerships. The first project, to be known as Q-Chem II includes QP (51%) and Chevron Phillips Chemical (49%) as shareholders. Q-Chem II will have new HDPE and Normal Alpha Olefins plants in Mesaieed adjacent to present Q-Chem plant. The second project will be known as Qatofin with a shareholding profile showing QAPCO (63 %), Atofina (36 %) and QP (1 %). Qatofin will establish a world scale LLDPE plant in Mesaieed, adjacent to QAPCO facilities. A third Project between QP, Q-Chem II and Qatofin will include an ethane cracker and a 120 km. pipeline to transport the ethylene produced by the cracker project. The shareholding profile in this project is Q-Chem II (53.31%), Qatofin (45.69 %) and QP (1.00 %). The ethane cracker will be one of the largest in the world.
Qatar Looks for Added Downstream Value From Petrochemical Complex Industrialinfo.com 17 June 2002 $1.26 billion Mesaieed Q-Chem Petrochemical complex, which is located in Mesaieed Industrial City approximately 40km south of Doha in the Arabian gulf state of Qatar, is one of a number of Middle East crude oil projects that expects to take advantage of home-based feedstock supplies to launch into value-added downstream petrochemical projects
June 13, 2002 Yahoo reported that Q-Chem II, building on the success of the existing Q-Chem Joint Venture between an affiliate of CPChem and Qatar Petroleum, plans to build two new ethylene derivative units adjacent to the Q-Chem complex at Mesaieed Industrial City. The polyethylene and normal alpha olefins (NAO) facilities will each have a capacity of 350,000 metric tons per year.
The other new joint venture project, an ethane cracker located in RAs Laffan, will provide ethylene feedstock to the Q-Chem II plants via a purpose- built pipeline. With an initial capacity of 1.3 million metric tons per year, the venture will include Atofina SA and Qapco, through Qatofin, as equity participants in the project with Q-Chem II. Studies for the project are in progress and the facility is expected to commence production in the second half of 2007.
Qatar Petroleum and Exxonmobil Announce Plans to Supply LNG from Qatar to the UK - 24 June 2002. Qatar Petroleum and Exxon Mobil Corporation have signed a Heads of Agreement (HOA) for the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar to the United Kingdom. This agreement was signed by His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Qatar Minister of Energy and Industry and by Harry Longwell, Director and Executive Vice President, Exxon Mobil Corporation. The HOA covers the development of two LNG trains which are expected to be the largest ever built by industry. The feed gas for these trains will be sourced from Qatar's giant North Field, which has proven natural gas reserves in excess of 900 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Qatar Petroleum will have a 70% equity interest in the LNG trains, and ExxonMobil 30%.
20 August 2002 the BBC reported that "South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries has claimed it is near winning a $1bn order with Qatar to build six liquefied natural gas carriers."
Reuters 30 July 2002 noted that Sasol "plans GTL [gas-to-liquids] operations in Nigeria and Qatar. The projects, whose combined investment is valued at $2.1 billion, will be implemented by Sasol Chevron Holdings, a joint venture with the U.S.'s ChevronTexaco CVX.N . The plants in Nigeria and Qatar are each expected to produce 34,000 barrels-per-day of synthetic green liquid fuels from 2006 and 2005 respectively."
AP reported 14 October 2002 that, Italian oil and gas group Eni SpA said ... it has signed an agreement with Qatar's Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co, RasGas, for the long term purchase of liquefied natural gas for the Spanish market. RasGas will supply to Eni the equivalent of about 1 billion cubic meters (35 billion cubic feet) of natural gas a year beginning from the second quarter 2004, for 20 years, Eni said."
Oil and Gas Companies & Organizations
Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC) - exploration and production, National Oil Distribution Company (NODCO) - refining and distribution, Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) - petrochemical production, Qatar Fertilizer Company (QAFCO) - fertilizer production, Qatar Liquefied Gas Company (Qatargas) and RAs Laffan LNG Company (Rasgas).
Major Foreign Companies: BP Amoco Arco, Chevron, Exxon, Gulfstream, Maersk, Marubeni, Mitsui, Mobil, MOL, Occidental, Phillips Petroleum, TotalFinaElf and Wintershall.
The Doha Bank reports 4 August 2002 that The international financial community gave Qatar a resounding thumbs up on 22 June. Amid volatility in the emerging debt market, investors piled in for the Qatari sovereign bond, the Middle East's first 30-year issue. Commitments of about $2,500 million were taken, allowing the government to sell $1,400 million worth of paper and refinance a sizeable portion of its debt mountain. Just 18 months ago, such a reaction from the markets would have been unthinkable. Then, all the talk was of an economy deep in trouble. Single-digit oil prices coupled with an external debt equivalent to almost 100% of gross domestic product (GDP), were raising serious concerns about Doha's ability to pull off a high-risk economic strategy investing billions of dollars in new industrial ventures that would only begin to deliver a healthy return in 2003/.4. Alarm bells were ringing especially loudly at US credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service. In a move widely seen as the precursor to a downgrade, the agency in January 1999 revised its outlook to negative from stable for Qatar's foreign currency rating of Baa2. However, the threatened downgrade never materialized. Today, Moody's outlook on Qatar is back to stable. The reason is not hard to find: the 44% jump in the average export price of Qatari crude during 1999 came to the rescue. Just how far Qatar's finances were transformed by last year's oil revenue windfall is apparent in the offering circular accompanying the sovereign bond issue. Prepared by joint bookrunners Goldman Sachs International and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the official report confirms that 1999 was a landmark year for Doha's key economic indicators. A 43% surge in exports resulted in a record trade surplus and the first current account surplus for more than five years. The government deficit was halved and was the lowest since 1986. The economy expanded by close to 9% in nominal terms, while inflation remained subdued. The Bank also noted that, The report estimates that in the 12 months to the end of March, direct government debt grew by 14% to $7,470 million, equivalent to 65.5% of 1999 GDP. This heavy burden not only explains why Qatar's credit rating was not upgraded, it also accounts for the tight fiscal policy the government continues to follow.
Economic Trends and Outlook
Despite fluctuations in oil prices and demand throughout the last three decades, Qatar has maximized its gains, with large industrial and infrastructure projects financed by huge inflows of petrodollars. These resulted in rapid economic growth.
Qatar is exporting 6 million metric tons per year (mmtpa) and 4.8 m mmtpa in 25-year contracts to Japan and Korea respectively. Additional contracts have been signed with Italy (3.5 mmtpa for 25 years starting 2005), Spain (5.6 mmtpa 2001-2009, 3.5 mmtpa 2002-2007 and an optional 3.5 mmtpa 2007-2012) and India (5 mmtpa for 25 years starting 2003 and another 2.5 mmtpa later on). The total exports, under current agreements, will thus go up to 20 mmtpa by 2002 and to over 26 mmtpa by 2008. This does not include spot sales of LNG. Revenues from LNG exports are largely dedicated to debt servicing. Qatar will derive benefits only after these debts are repaid over the next three years or so, after which revenues from the export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will start feeding the GOQ's ambitious development plans. Combined revenues from both oil and LNG exports should place Qatar among the richest nations (per capita) of the world before the year 2010.
Trade and Project Financing
The Banking and Financial System of Qatar
The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) supervises all banks and money exchange companies in Qatar, with no exceptions by law or treaty. Established as the Qatar Monetary Agency (QMA) in 1973, the QCB was inaugurated in 1993 by Law No. 14 to manage the functions previously handled by QMA.
Check with the local Qatari Embassy. If you are a citizen of the USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea you can obtain a tourist or business visa on arrival (QR55 - about $15), also see the Qatari Airways Web Site for details. Normal restrictions for the Gulf area apply. As requirements can change at short notice please check before traveling and do not rely on the information given here.
Reuters reported 30 July 2002 that relations between Saudi Arabia and its tiny neighbour Qatar plunged to a new low on Tuesday as the Saudi government-controlled media launched a scathing attack on Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani. Sheikh Hamad met his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in Paris.
Gulf News 2 August 2002 said that "Qatar yesterday played down a row with its neighbour Saudi Arabia, saying the "misunderstanding" would not rupture ties." Although it also reports that, "Saudi Arabia has ignored repeated requests by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani to visit to resolve what he called a 'misunderstanding between brothers'".
Reuters reported 26 August 2002 that "Qatar's foreign minister arrived in Iraq [25 August] for talks to try and persuade Baghdad to resume U.N. weapons inspections. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani's state visit was the first by a Gulf Arab foreign minister to Iraq in at least four years.. focus[es] on arms inspections as a key to averting a potential U.S. attack on Iraq." Reuters noted that "Qatar was the first Gulf Arab country to reopen ties with Iraq after Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait by a U.S.-led coalition during the 1991 Gulf War. Qatar was also the third Gulf Arab state to sign a free-trade agreement with Iraq, which has the second largest oil reserves in the world."
Although Qatar is a modern and prosperous country those interested in its past and Qatari culture can find traces of its history, when it relied on its fishing fleet, trade and pearl industries. The Qatar National Museum in Doha was established to explain Qatar's history and the traditional modes of life of it's people, this is well worth a visit.
The Qatari armed forces are well equipped with modern weapons. The BBC reported, 8 Feb. 2002 that "Since coming to power, Sheikh Hamad has continued in the roles of commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defence minister and has ensured Qatar's military development."
For detailed information on Qatar's armed forces and US bases in Qatar see the Qatar Government page on this Site.
Qatar and the future
The International Herald Tribute (Paris) reported 13 April 2002: "If you want a glimpse of where the Arab world may be heading if the modernizers succeed, take a look at the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar."