The moratorium on output boosts from the world’s largest gas field – which Qatar shares with Iran – is set to continue, with no end in sight. “We are not a company maximizing [production]; we have to make sure that this reserve will last. Whether [the moratorium] will continue depends on whether we need it or not. We must not damage reserves. We saw what happens in other countries which maximized production – water cut was high, destroyed reserves,” Qatar’s influential deputy prime minister and former energy minister ‘Abd Allah al-‘Attiyah said in Doha this week. The last sanctioned development to tap gas from the 900 tcf North Field, the $10bn, 1.4bn cfd Barzan project (QP 93%, ExxonMobil 7%) – which will also yield about 100,000 b/d of condensate – will likely start up late this year. Barzan’s gas is set for use by Qatari power and desalination plants, though it is possible there will be some surplus, at least until rampant power demand growth absorbs remaining volumes.

QP hopes the moratorium on new North Field development will secure the resource for future generations. The North Field is the economic backbone of the Gulf state on which it depends for almost all the gas fueling Qatar’s world-beating 77mn tons/year of LNG exports, more than three times that of any other country (see graph, p8). The moratorium was introduced in 2005 on the back of technical concerns including wide variation in the acidity and NGLs content of the gas, and pressure drops in some wells that result in a liquid buildup that blocks gas flow. The study into reservoir depletion is complicated by the depth, permeability and porosity of the reservoir. Additionally, some of Qatar’s concerns are driven by reports from the Iranian side of the field, where it is known as South Pars. Pressure drops in some wells on the Iranian side have caused liquid formation, blocking gas flow. Recent development phases at South Pars have seen a dry hole and salt-water infiltration (MEES, 12 December 2011). (CONTINUED - 1084 WORDS)