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Qatar to restart drilling in world's largest gas field after 12 year freeze

Qatar Petroleum is to develop a new gas project in the offshore North Field, ending a 12-year freeze put in place while it assessed the potential of the area.06 Apr 2017

Chief executive Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said: "Qatar Petroleum’s technical studies and assessment of the North Field have confirmed the potential for developing a new gas project that can be targeted for export with a capacity of about 2 billion cubic feet per day."

"It is worth noting that a project of this size will increase the current production of the North Field by about 10%, which will add about 400,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent to the state of Qatar’s production," he said.

The company has been assessing the North Field since 2005, including drilling appraisal wells to estimate the field's production potential, Al Kaabi said.

"This new project will strengthen Qatar's leading position as a major player in the global gas industry and underline the pivotal role of the country's oil and gas industry as the mainstay of the national economy. This, in turn, will contribute to and stimulate the economy in both the public and private sectors as part of the comprehensive development of the country and the achievement of the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030," he said.

In January 2015, Qatar had the third-largest proved reserves of natural gas in the world at 872 trillion cubic feet, nearly all of which are in the North Field, according to the International Energy Agency. Qatar shares the field with Iran, where it is known as South Pars.

Oil and gas expert Jason Rosychuk of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said: "This is an important development of a very big resource. However, it also has a lead time of five to seven years, which shows a great deal of faith in the resilience of gas as a future fuel compared to oil – gas as a 'clean' fossil fuel will likely increase its percentage of the fossil fuel mix through the middle of this century where oil demand is predicted to peak as early as 2020.  It also represents a lot of competition for other gas producers as the costs of production in the North Field / South Pars are amongst the cheapest in the world."

"There has been a lot of anticipation for Qatar to lift the freeze on drilling and now that it has happened it shows Qatar’s commitment to remain at the centre of global liquefied natural gas development," he said.