Doha: The foundation stone of a new refinery for gas condensates with a capacity of 146,000 barrels per day was laid down yesterday during an official ceremony in Ras Laffan Industrial City, a statement said.

The refinery, which will go on stream by the third quarter of 2008, will be one of the largest in the world, it said.

The Laffan Refinery, whose shareholders comprise Qatar Petroleum (80 per cent), ExxonMobil and Total (10 per cent respectively), will be executed and operated by Qatargas Operating Company Ltd.

The refinery has a planned processing capacity of 146,000 barrels per day of gas condensates. It also includes associated storage and export facilities.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract was awarded in 2005 and to a consortium of GS Engineering and Construction Corporation and Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co Ltd from Korea.

"This project marks the beginning of refining projects to be set in Ras Laffan Industrial City in the future," said Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, the second deputy premier and minister of energy and industry.

"It also constitutes part of the strategy laid by the Emir aimed at the optimal utilisation of our country's natural resources, to achieve progress for the Qatari people and to secure energy supplies for the international community."

Commenting on this new venture, Faisal Al Suwaidi, chief executive officer of Qatargas Operating Co Ltd, said by 2012 Qatar will be producing 77 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas.

He said Qatar will also produce more refined products to contribute to the world's increasing demands.