Qatar has officially kicked off the start of its massive North Field expansion project — which it dubs the largest in the gas industry’s history — that will add 48 million tonnes per annum of LNG to global supply in three years’ time.

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, QatarEnergy president and chief executive and Qatar minister of state for energy affairs, said the expansion will raise Qatar’s LNG production from 77 mtpa to 126 mtpa by 2026.

“It is worth noting that this project is the largest in the history of the gas industry and the world’s best in terms of the carbon footprint,” Al-Kaabi said in Ras Laffan in the presence of the Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the heads of energy major project partners.

“It comes at a crucial time, as natural gas occupies a pivotal position in the energy mix in a world facing geopolitical turbulences and is in dire need of clean energy sources that align with the global environmental goals.”

The project involves the construction of six mega-liquefaction trains of 8 mtpa — four of which are in the North Field East expansion project and two in the North Field South development.

QatarEnergy looks set to charter over 100 LNG carrier newbuildings from shipowners under its huge ship acquisition programme as it boosts its shipping capacity to handle the fresh volumes and upgrade its fleet with new, more efficient tonnage. Sixty vessels have already been secured under the first phase.

Al-Kaabi said the project will also produce 6,500 tonnes per day of ethane gas, which will be used as feedstock in the local petrochemical industries. It will also pump out 200,000 barrels per day of LPG — propane and butane — and about 450,000 barrels per day of condensates, along with large quantities of helium gas and sulphur.

Giving an idea of the work involved, he said that over 60,000 workers are expected to participate during peak construction, and more than 300 million working hours will be completed when the project is finished.

Al-Khaabi welcomed chief executives and senior executives from project partners TotalEnergies, Shell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Eni, Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corp.

The emir laid a foundation stone for the North Field expansion project during the ceremony for what Al-Khaabi described as “a uniquely important project” at the local level and globally.

Energy major chief executives lined up alongside their Qatari partners at the ceremony. Photo: QatarEnergy