Qatar Gas
The expansion will increase Qatar’s annual capacity to 110 million tonnes from 77 million. Image Credit: Shutterstock

ConocoPhillips has joined other Western energy firms in taking a stake in a $29 billion project to boost Qatar’s exports of natural gas.

The Houston-based company will buy a 3.1 per cent holding in the North Field East project. CEO Ryan Lance announced the deal alongside Qatar’s energy minister, Saad Al Kaabi, in Doha on Monday.

Eni SpA and TotalEnergies SE were previously announced as investors in the project with respective stakes of 3.1 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively.

The expansion will increase Qatar’s annual capacity to 110 million tonnes from 77 million, just as demand for LNG is surging across the world, particularly in Europe.

Buyers have rushed to secure non-Russian supplies since Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. Gazprom PJSC last week reduced pipeline gas flows, which highlighted the continent’s vulnerability and raised the specter of fuel rationing.

According to Qatar Energy’s latest schedule, it expects North Field East to start operating in early 2026, meaning European buyers will need to look for alternative supplies in the meantime.

Once the extra gas is flowing, Qatar expects to send more shipments to Europe. Around 80 per cent of Qatari LNG currently heads to Asia but the proportion being shipped to Europe will rise to 40-50 per cent, according to Al Kaabi.

Higher Qatari output will help the country retain its position as one of the world’s biggest suppliers. North Field East will grow Qatari LNG output capacity for the first time since 2011. Even so, Qatar will still be the second-largest LNG exporter in 2028 behind the US, according to BloombergNEF.