Qatar Petroleum has started the development drilling campaign of the North Field East Project to expand the production capacity of the world’s biggest natural gas deposit that the tiny nation shares with Iran in the Persian Gulf.
Qatar shares the North Field with Iran, which calls the deposit the South Pars. While Qatar announced this week the start of its development drilling to expand its natural gas export capacity and reclaim the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter spot, Iran – hit by strict U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic – says it still has plans for the next phase of the South Pars field, but drilling won’t take place until March 2021.
The first offshore well of South Pars Phase 11 project will be drilled in the current Iranian calendar year which began on March 20 and ends in March 2021, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said on Wednesday, as quoted by Iran’s oil ministry’s news service, Shana.
Qatar, for its part, has launched drilling for the first phase of the North Field expansion. The first well out of 80 planned was spudded on March 29, Qatar Petroleum said in a statement.
Qatar had previously put a moratorium on any production expansion at the field, but two years ago, it took many market players by surprise when it announced its plan to ramp up production. That decision was made as Australia began challenging—successfully—Qatar’s number-one position as the world’s largest LNG exporter. Qatar has announced plans to increase its LNG production capacity by 43 percent—from 77 million tons annually now to 110 million tons a year. The new export capacity includes expansion projects set to be completed in 2024.
The first phase of the North Field expansion project will increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity from 77 million tons per annum (Mtpa) to 110 Mtpa. The second phase of the expansion project, called the North Field South Project (NFS), is set to further boost Qatar’s LNG production capacity from 110 Mtpa to 126 Mtpa, Qatar Petroleum says.