Eni to Lead Qatar LNG Consortium?

10.06.2022 - State-backed Italian energy group Eni has reportedly been tapped by the government of Qatar to lead a consortium of five global energy groups to stem the near $30 billion expansion of the North Field, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

Sources speaking to newswire Yahoo Finance identified the other four partners as Exxon Mobil, TotalEnergies, Shell and ConocoPhillips. The expansion is designed to boost the emirate’s position as the world's number one LNG exporter.

None of the companies named has confirmed participation in the expansion apart from Shell. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant said in a statement that it has bid to participate in the consortium “and would be delighted to be selected.”

Qatar is expected to play a major role in guaranteeing the long-term supply of gas to Europe as the continent seeks alternatives for Russian oil and gas. The European Commission is urging member states to stop importing Russian gas as quickly as possible.

German economics and energy minister Robert Habeck has recently held talks with Qatar about a deal.As the country with the greatest dependence on Russian gas, after cancelling the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline Germany has been scrambling to build up the infrastructure to import LNG.

According to figures published by US business magazine Fortune, in the first four months of 2022 nearly three-quarters of all the liquefied natural gas produced in the US was shipped to Europe, as oil companies could get better margins.

Some US economists have blamed the exports for soaring US pump prices, though the popular tendency among US consumers is to blame president Joe Biden. European gasoline prices have risen even more, comparatively.

Oil producer Chevron Corp, which has been seeking to expand its LNG business, has not been awarded a stake in the project, one of Yahoo’s sources said. Although no reason was given, some said it could be related to Chevron’s strong position in Venezuela.

Biden has asked Chevron and Venezuela’s socialist government to expand gas and oil production for US consumption, although the South American country was sanctioned by the administration of former president US president Donald Trump.

There have been conflicting reports on when the project could be made public. State-owned Qatar Energy (QE) has reportedly scheduled a press conference and a signing ceremony for Jun. 12, without specifying the subject. Some said the plans could be revealed when ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods attends an energy conference with QE later this month. Other reports said Qatar may be planning to add a Chinese partner.

According to Yahoo Finance, The North Field Expansion (NFE) plan includes six LNG trains that will ramp up Qatar’s liquefaction capacity from 77 million t/y to 126 million t/y by 2027. A second expansion is also planned.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist