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Qatar eyes more long-term gas supply deals this year

Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi sets out QatarEnergy's plans to boost LNG production capacity at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha
— Doha (AFP)

Qatar expects to sign more long-term natural gas supply deals this year to meet growing international demand, Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said on Wednesday.

The minister, who is also chief executive of QatarEnergy, said the state-owned giant had secured sales of 25 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the past year and expected to be "signing more this year."

"It's just agreeing on terms and conditions and pricing... but I think there's a huge demand out there, whether it's from Asia or Europe," Kaabi told the Qatar Economic Forum.

"I think even Europe is realising now they have to do something different to secure long term," he added.

Qatar is one of the world's top LNG producers alongside the United States, Australia and Russia.

Asian countries led by China, Japan and South Korea have been the main market for Qatari gas, but demand from European countries has grown since Russia's war on Ukraine threw supplies into doubt.

In February, Qatar announced plans to expand output from its North Field, saying they would boost capacity to 142 million tonnes per year before 2030.

Kaabi said there could be further expansions to the emirate's LNG production capacity.

"The technical capability of doing more in Qatar is going to be assessed in the future and, if there is more, we probably will do more," he said.

In recent months, Qatar has inked LNG deals with France's Total, Britain's Shell, India's Petronet, China's Sinopec and Italy's Eni among others.

TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne and ExxonMobil chief Darren Woods both rejected concerns about overcapacity in the market as consumer countries move away from fossil fuels in a bid to limit global warming.

"I'm not afraid. I think there is a place, a clear place for the gas in the transition," Pouyanne said.

"Things will not happen in a night like some people are dreaming," he said, adding: "Population is growing, energy demand is growing."

Woods echoed the comments of the TotalEnergies boss.

"Demand for energy is being driven by economic growth and people's living standards rising," he said.

"There are billions of people around the planet who deserve better lives and are going to require affordable, available and reliable energy sources. And I think that's the challenge going forward."