Liquefied natural gas (LNG) Train 7 at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar has been completed and undergone start-up, Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co. Ltd. (3) project partner ExxonMobil Corp. said Wednesday.

The project is a joint venture of Qatar Petroleum (70%) and ExxonMobil Ras Laffan (3) Ltd. (30%) and represents another expansion of LNG production facilities operated by RasGas Co. Ltd.

Ras Laffan 3 Train 7 is the fourth 7.8 million ton/year LNG plant brought online by Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil joint ventures within the past 12 months. The "mega train" matches the capacity of Ras Laffan 3 Train 6, one of the largest operating LNG production facilities in the world (see Daily GPI, Aug. 13, 2009). These facilities have sufficient scale to competitively reach markets around the globe, ExxonMobil said. Qatar's North Field, which is estimated to contain more than 900 Tcf of gas, will supply both trains.

"The startup of Ras Laffan 3 Train 7 represents a significant accomplishment in the further development of natural gas from the North Field to help supply growing global energy demand," said Neil Duffin, president of ExxonMobil Development Co. "Initiating LNG production from Ras Laffan 3 Train 7 marks another major milestone in the unprecedented effort between Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil to design and effectively implement the largest liquefaction trains, LNG vessels and terminals in the world."

Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co. Ltd. (3) is a unit of Qatar's RasGas companies. The latest train boosts the overall LNG production capacity of all RasGas companies to approximately 36.3 million tons/year, RasGas said. "Train 7 is a clear demonstration of RasGas' confidence and ambition," said RasGas CEO Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi. 'These mega facilities are the embodiment of a bold investment and the culmination of years of technological development and preparation."

Ras Laffan 3 is part of an investment that includes facilities associated with gas production and liquefaction in Qatar. Also involved are investments by affiliates of Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil in 12 new Q-Flex LNG vessels and one Q-Max LNG vessel. The Q-Flex and Q-Max designs can carry about 45% and 80%, respectively, more LNG than the average carrier operating today and can access terminals in all of the world's major LNG markets, ExxonMobil said.

The final key component of the value chain is the Golden Pass LNG terminal, under construction near Sabine Pass, TX, which will be capable of regasifying 15.6 million tons/year of LNG. This venture consists of affiliates of Qatar Petroleum (70%), ExxonMobil (17.6%) and ConocoPhillips (12.4%) and is expected to start up this year.

Qatar has become the world's largest LNG supplier, according to ExxonMobil. Through joint ventures with Qatar Petroleum the company has an interest in 12 trains in Qatar to supply LNG to markets in Asia, Europe and North America.

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