Qatar’s state-owned producer, the largest natural gas exporter in the world, is aiming to remain on the leaderboard as it awards contracts to enhance production capacity by 2024 to 110 million metric tons/year (mmty) from 77 mmty.

The contracts by Qatar Petroleum (QP) were announced by CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi on Tuesday at the 19th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG2019) in Shanghai.

QP in September said its long-range plans were to increase gas production, including developing more reserves in the North Field, considered the largest gas field in the world, which it shares with Iran.

QP plans to boost liquefaction capacity by 43%, with designs to add a fourth liquefaction train for the field, adding an estimated 32 mmty, 4,000 metric tons/day of ethane, 260,000 b/d of condensate, 11,000 tons/day of liquefied petroleum gas and 20 tons/day of pure helium.

McDermott International Co. was awarded a contract for fabricating and installing offshore jackets. A contract for early site works in preparation for four LNG trains in Ras Laffan Industrial City, each able to handle 8 mmty, was awarded to a joint venture between Consolidated Contractors Co. and Teyseer Trading and Contracting Co.

QP also is “in the tendering phase for eight rigs for the development drilling,” Al-Kaabi said. Front-end engineering and design of the onshore facilities should be completed by Chiyoda Corp. in the next few days. Invitations to tender engineering, procurement and construction of the onshore facilities are to be issued by the end of the month.

“In a few weeks, qualified shipyards will be invited to participate in a tender for the provision of LNG ship construction slots” for the shipping fleet required for the expansion project.

“As the largest LNG producer, we are also expanding our capacity in many parts of the world,” al-Kaabi said. “This includes adding 16 mmty from our Golden Pass LNG export project in the United States with our long-term strategic partner ExxonMobil Corp.”

Golden Pass, to be built in Sabine Pass, TX, was sanctioned in February and “should be in operation by 2024.” QP and ExxonMobil also established Ocean LNG that would handle all production marketing.

Natural gas has the “economic and environmental qualities to make it the energy source of the future,” a key factor in QP’s decision to expand its LNG operations, al-Kaabi said. QP in December said it planned to exit the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, i.e. OPEC, to concentrate on building its gas business.

Combined oil and natural gas, which QP supplies via pipeline and through LNG exports, currently is around 4.8 million boe/d.

“In today’s very complex world, we need stable, reliable, clean and affordable sources of energy to keep that momentum,” al-Kaabi said. “We also need a clean source of reliable energy. Natural gas is that source.” Gas demand also should continue to rise.

“While some see natural gas as a transition fuel, we believe it is a destination fuel. It is the cleanest of all fossil fuels. It is reliable, affordable, and the fuel of the future.”

In his overview of regional demand patterns, al-Kaabi said “China, along with India, will continue to lead Asia as the main drivers behind the growth of global LNG demand,” a view that mirrors independent analyses by the International Energy Agency, DNV GL and major producers, including BP plc.

“This year, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary since our first LNG cargo to China,” he said. “We are proud to have delivered over 50 mmt of LNG to China, equalling more than 22% of China’s LNG imports, during that decade.”

LNG2019 is organized by the International Gas Union, the Gas Technology Institute and the International Institute of Refrigeration. The event is held every three years, alternating between exporting and importing countries. Participation at this year’s event included more than 240 speakers and 11,000 attendees, along with 250 exhibitors from 80 countries.