Stavanger: Qatar expects to conclude a study into the state of its vast North gas field and take decisions on its future development next year, a Qatari official said.

"We are hoping by the end of next year that we will have the result and management will be able to take appropriate decisions," Taieb Belmahdi, technical advisor at Qatar's energy ministry, told reporters at an industry event in Norway.

Qatar has put new projects on hold at the field while it finishes the study. Energy experts believe the field is the largest single reservoir of unassociated gas in the world.

Qatar has said it would only go ahead with a second phase of development at the North field when it was sure it could do so without damaging the reservoir by pumping too hard.

Qatar aims to become the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world, boosting shipments to 77 million tonnes a year in 2012 from around 25-26 million tonnes this year.

Construction of the South Hook LNG terminal in the UK is on course for completion in the fourth quarter of 2007, Belmahdi said.

The terminal will have capacity to import close to 16 million tonnes per year, he said.