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Exploring oil production in Qatar

The State of Qatar is a sovereign nation located on the Qatar Peninsula that juts out from the north-eastern side of the large Arabian Peninsula. For a relatively small country, it enjoyed a respectable oil production of 1,522,902 barrels a day in 2016, but the country’s most valuable asset is its gas reserves, which are the third largest in the world.

Before the emergence of the energy sector, Qatar was, like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, one of the poorest countries in the world, with pearl diving being its main industry. Oil exploration began in Qatar in 1938, leading to oil being discovered on the west coast in Dukhan in 1939. The country was producing 4,000 barrels a day by the next year, but the outbreak of World War II delayed any further oil development.

The Shell Company of Qatar was awarded a concession in 1952 to explore the offshore continental shelf, ultimately leading to the discovery of the Idd ash-sharqi and Maydan Mahzam fields in 1960 and 1963 respectively. Over the course of the 1960s, Qatar’s oil production more than doubled from 165,000 to 363,000 barrels a day.

Qatar’s oil reserves are not predicted to last much longer, although it is possible that some of the gas fields contain large amounts of oil. Gas condensate can also be refined into oil products. While Qatar does have huge gas reserves, there is of course the question of what to do with it as a small country in an sparsely populated part of the world where most of its neighbours also have substantial gas reserves.

To enable its gas reserves to be exploited, Qatar Petroleum, which is responsible for all oil and gas industry processes in Qatar, built 14 LNG trains with a total capacity of 77 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per annum. The LNG can then be transported by ship to other countries, such as Japan.

ExxonMobil, which also makes anti-wear hydraulic oils like Mobil DTE 25, has partnered with Qatar Petroleum to develop the country’s North Field, which is the largest non-associated natural gas field in the world. The company has also participated in 12 of Qatar’s 14 LNG trains and the country’s biggest condensate refinery.

Qatar has also been keen to diversify its economy, and its ample supply of natural gas is a useful feedstock for the industrial sector, with the production of petrochemical, steel and fertilisers being dominant.

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