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QATAR - The North Field.

Qatar has the world's biggest accumulation of natural gas in the offshore North-West Dome region. Now this area is called North Field. Phase-1 of its development came on stream in 1991. Seven other projects - if all are realised - by 2007 would make Qatar one of the world's main sources of LNG, condensates/NGLs and synthetic gasoil (as shown below).

 Gas Condensate/ Dedicated LNG Design
Start-Up MCF/Day NGL (b/d) Reserve Capacity

Sept 1991 Phase-1* 880 40,000 7 TCF --
1997/98-03 Qatargas* 1,100 60,000 12 TCF 6-10M t/y
1999-2000 RasGas-1* 1,100 60,000 10 TCF 6.6M t/y
2003/04 RasGas-2* 1,400 80,000 12 TCF 8.8M t/y
2004 ExxonMobil 1,750 90,000 15 TCF P/L Gas
2005 BP-Led Group* 800 38,000 6 TCF P/L Gas
2005 QP/Sasol* -- Synth. Oils
2006 QP/ExxonMobil* -- Synth. Oils

Total 7,030 368,000 62 TCF Ttal LNG 21-25.4 t/y

* Phase-1 is fully owned by QGPC. Qatargas, which now can produce 8m t/y, is a JV between QP, ExxonMobil, TotalFinaElf, Mitsui & Marubeni. RasGas, which can produce over 9m t/y, is a JV between QP, ExxonMobil, Itochu, Nissho Iwai and a South Korean group. Its capacity is being expanded to 10m t/y. A QP/ExxonMobil GTL venture is to process gas into impurities-free gasoil. A similar venture has been agreed by QP and Sasol of South Africa (see Downstream Trends). Qatar's total condensate output by 2007 is likely to exceed 400,000 b/d.

North Field Phase-1: The North Field itself is reserved to QP and to JVs between QP and the above mentioned ventures. The field's waters being shallow, the deeper parts not exceeding 40 metres, it was judged in the 1970s and 1980s that its development was going to be easy. QP (then QGPC) contracted Fluor of the US to conceive a plan, as negotiations for the first LNG venture (Qatargas) began in 1982, taking into account that the field's gas had a high sulphur content. Fluor's plan called for three phases, each to produce 800 MCF/day, with Phase-1 to meet domestic demand, Phase-2 for exports by pipeline and Phase-3 for LNG exports. Phase-1 was then estimated to cost about $1ybn. The whole plan was revised subsequently, however, and Phase-1 was estimated at $950m. The government was resolved to finance Phase-1 from budget allocations, from the sale of 30,000 b/d of crude oil by QGPC (later this was increased to 40,000 b/d), from export credit facilities by the governments of contractors, and from commercial bank loans.

Work on Phase-1 began with the award of the $80m management contract to a Bechtel/Technip JV in May 1987. This covered engineering, procurement, sub-contracting, construction supervision and start-up assistance. By May 1989 all construction contract packages had been awarded, along with most equipment orders. In August 1989, QGPC decided to have a gas-sweetening plant and a sulphur processing unit for Phase-1. Sweetening the gas was to make it easier to sell to pollution-conscious customers, and would enable export-grade sulphur to be produced. In the end, the difference between Fluor's original plan and the revised one was a reduction in the number of onshore processing plants from two to one. The cost of sweetening the gas and processing sulphur raised the outlay for Phase-1 to about $1.3 bn.

Later it was decided that Phases Two and Three were to be implemented in one integrated programme. QGPC began to identify them as "Phase-2", and Total was contracted in May 1991 to develop the upstream section of the first LNG venture, Qatargas. Later it was decided that the LNG element was to be operated by Mobil (now ExxonMobil), which joined Qatargas in place of BP. QGPC awarded the contract for the Ras Laffan infrastructure, mainly consisting of a port and LNG terminal, to an Italian group.

Phase-1 went partly on stream in March 1991, with trial production having begun in February. Some of the final work had been postponed as a result of the Gulf war. Phase-1 was finally inaugurated on Sept. 3, 1991, and the wells had already gone on stream in August. Designed for wellhead production of 800 MCF/day of gas, actual output has reached 880 MCF/day, yielding 40,000 b/d of condensates and some LPG. Of the gas, 550 MCF/d are supplied to local petrochemical and other industrial plants. The rest is reinjected into the onshore Dukhan field as a reserve. Exports of LPG and condensates originating from Phase-1 began in 1992. The related plant's design capacity is 1.6m t/y of NGLs, comprising 270,000 t/y of propane, 190,000 t/y of butane, 110,000 t/y of natural gasoline, 730,000 t/y of light naphtha and 330,000 t/y of heavy naphtha. The offshore production facilities include a cluster of six platforms, two for wellheads, one for treatment and condensate separation, one flare platform, one for utilities and one for accommodation. The platforms are linked to a terminal at Ras Laffan by two 80-km marine pipelines - a 36-inch line for dry gas and a 22-inch line for condensates. From Ras Laffan, the gas and condensates are pumped by two 140-km pipelines to Umm Said for processing and export. A 70-km line takes the surplus dry gas to the Dukhan field for reinjection. At Umm Said, one of the two existing NGL plants has been expanded and modified to treat and process North Field gas and condensates, and the new plant (NGL-3) has an efficient system. The gas-sweetening plant at Umm Said processes North Field's output, extracting hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from the raw gas. Construction of the plant was awarded to Technip in early 1990 at a cost of $110m. The sour gas left over from the sweetening process is piped to Qatar Petrochemical Co's complex in Umm Said where a 70,000 t/y plant has been built to process it. All the refined sulphur is for export.

The Other Phases: Phase-2 combines several upstream phases involving foreign companies as partners under PSAs. The main ones are the following:

Qatargas, with TotalFinaElf the operator, produces 1,100 MCF/d to yield up to 8m t/y of LNG and up to 60,000 b/d of condensate/NGL. Work on this began in 1993 and accelerated in 1995 as the financing became available. The first stream of gas, about 800 MCF/d, was ready in October 1996. The first LNG train, 2m t/y, began shipments to Chubu Electric of Japan in December 1996. The second 2m t/y train began shipments to Chubu in January 1997. The third train, 2m t/y, went on stream in 1998. Total and its partners provided all the financing for upstream work, estimated to cost $1.1 bn, and they get paid in condensates extracted from Total's operation. The PSA was signed shortly after then Crown Prince Shaikh Hamad issued decrees in January 1992 entitling Total and its Qatargas partners to such an agreement, replacing a service contract which the French company had signed on May 29, 1991. The decrees followed BP's withdrawal from Qatargas and an intensification of the power struggle between Shaikh Hamad and his father, the then emir.

The RasGas PSA, with ExxonMobil as operator, is eventually to produce up to 2,500 MCF/d of gas to yield up to 15.4m t/y of LNG and over 140,000 b/d of condensates. Work on this venture began in 1994. Condensate production began in April 1999 and the first LNG came on stream in May of that year.

QP and ExxonMobil on May 2, 2000 signed a PSA for the US super-major to develop and extract 1,750 MCF/d of natural gas and about 90,000 b/d of condensates from several offshore Khuff formations. This is called Enhanced Gas Utilisation (EGU) project. The gas will be supplied to industries and power plants in Qatar, including the GTL ventures, and to Kuwait on the one hand and to the UAE, Oman and Pakistan on the other. ExxonMobil will invest about $1 bn. Initial production is to start in 2002 at the rate of 500 MCF/d. It should reach 1,750 MCF/d by 2006. ExxonMobil will also produce butane and propane (LPG) to be supplied to a local petrochemical plant and exported.

Supplies to the UAE, Oman and Pakistan will be part of the $8-10 bn Dolphin Gas Project (DGP), through which Qatar will export over 21 MCM/d to these markets. The gas will come from the EGU project and from other North Field development phases. The DGP promoter, the state-owned and Abu Dhabi-controlled UAE Offset Group (UOG), has signed an agreement with ExxonMobil. UOG has signed related supply agreements with QP, the states of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the governments of Oman and Pakistan.

North Field gas is very sour but rich in methane. Its ethane content is 5%, compared with 10.5% in the case of associated gas, and the condensate portion is quite heavy. This means the North Field can be a major source for methanol, as well as LNG, and a poor source of feedstocks for ethanol, ethylene, etc. Its propane and butane contents are low, compared to the yields of associated gas.
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Publication:APS Review Gas Market Trends
Date:Sep 3, 2001
Previous Article:QATAR - Offshore Fields.
Next Article:QATAR - LNG Business Continues To Expand; Spot Shipments Go To US & Europe.

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