Saad Al Kaabi added that the company will not reduce a plan to build six new LNG production facilities, known as trains, needed for an ambitious local increase, through commercial bids from contractors, and that the start of production will be delayed.
Qatar Petroleum, the liquefied natural gas producer in the largest exporter of this fuel in the world, wanted to raise its production to about 110 million tons annually by 2024 from 77 million tons annually at the present time as a first stage in the expansion.
Al-Kaabi said that the company was expecting to receive final bids this month from contractors for the first phase, the North Field project, which will include building four trains.
However, this was postponed after the companies requested more time to bid, due to the general isolation measures around the world related to Corona virus.
This will delay the awarding of final major contracts, which cover major ground operations in engineering, procurement and construction, to the fourth quarter of this year, Al-Kaabi said.
“We will start the first (production) of LNG in 2025, so the delay will be three to six months,” he said.
He added that with global commodity prices falling, he expected trade bids to come at a lower rate.
“We are moving forward with all our strength in the expansion of the North Field. There is absolutely no hesitation about that,” Al-Kaabi told Reuters in an interview by video link.
“I think the world still needs this gas … in light of canceling a lot of projects and companies reducing capital spending in every direction because of the situation.”
Al-Kaabi said that the selection of these partners “goes hand in hand” with the completion of the bidding of the contractors, and will also take place before the end of the year. He said that Qatar Petroleum has prepared a shortlist of six international oil companies for a stake of up to 30 percent in the first phase of the project.
The second phase, known as the South North Field Project, will support Qatar’s LNG production capacity to 126 million tons per year by 2027 by building two more trains.
Al-Kaabi said that there would be no delay in the second phase of the project or a narrowing of its scope. He added, “We do not have any projects that will be canceled in connection with the development of the North Field.”
Al-Kaabi said that while some buyers are calling for the postponement or even the suspension of some shipments temporarily, others are still able to receive more LNG shipments than stated in their contracts, and that Qatar Petroleum also sold some of the shipments in the spot market.
“(They) are our long-term partners and we will support them in times of need,” he said.
He added that the company postponed some routine and unnecessary maintenance due to the outbreak of the Corona virus and restrictions on movements.
“Reducing or stopping the production of LNG is something that we do not expect to happen at the moment,” he said.