Following some big news from Qatar Petroleum in 2017, work has been gathering pace on expanding production at one of the world’s largest natural gas fields. 

Qatar Petroleum (QP) has recently issued a number of contracts relating to the North Field Expansion (NFE) project, as work progresses to satisfy an ambitious expansion plan.

In July 2017, QP announced its intention to raise Qatar’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) production from 77 mn to 100 mn tons per annum by 2024. This would be achieved by doubling the size of the new gas project in the southern sector of the North Field, which QP had announced just a few months previously. This will increase the North Field’s production of natural gas, condensate and other associated products by one mn barrels of oil equivalent per day. Qatargas, the world’s largest LNG company, would be executing the project on behalf of QP.

Speaking at the time, HE Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs and the President & CEO of QP, stated: ‘Last April, we announced our intention to develop a new gas project in the southern sector of the North Field that can be targeted for export. With the conclusion of further technical studies, we have decided that the best option would be to double the size of the project to 4 bn cubic feet of gas per day, which constitutes a 20% increase from the current North Field production rate, or about 1 mn barrels of oil equivalent per day.

‘Once completed, within five to seven years from now, this project will raise the production of the State of Qatar to about 6 mn barrels of oil equivalent per day.’

LNG train

The first award to be announced was in March 2018, selecting Chiyoda Corporation of Japan to execute the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) of the onshore facilities of the NFE project, to produce an additional 23 mtpa of LNG as per the announcement in July 2017. 

The FEED scope of work will provide the basic design for the addition of three 7.8 mn tons per annum (mtpa) mega-trains of LNG production with associated pre-investment to add a fourth LNG train in the future. 

The onshore facilities will receive approximately 4.6 bn standard cubic feet a day of feed gas from the southern sector of Qatar’s North Field. The processing of the feed gas will also produce approximately 4,000 tons a day of ethane as feedstock to a petrochemical development in Qatar, 260,000 barrels a day of condensate, and 11,000 tons a day of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for sale into world markets, in addition to approximately 20 tons a day of pure helium. 

Just two months later QP awarded the ‘Detailed Design’ contract for the eight NFE project offshore jackets to McDermott Middle East Inc. Onshore site preparation for the four LNG trains at Ras Laffan is being carried out by Consolidated Contractors Company and Teyseer Trading and Contracting Company.

Moving forward to April 2019, while attending the 19th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas in Shanghai, HE Al Kaabi stated that QP had awarded a number of contracts. This included issuing the Invitation to Tender Package for Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) of the four LNG mega-trains of the NFE project. The package was issued to three EPC joint ventures: Chiyoda Corporation and Technip France SA; JGC Corporation and Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co Ltd; and Saipem SpA, McDermott Middle East Inc and CTCI Corporation.

The tender is for the EPC of the four mega-LNG trains with gas and liquid treating facilities, ethane and LPG production and fractionation, a helium plant, and utilities and infrastructure to support the processing units. The award of this EPC contract is expected to be in January 2020.

HE Al Kaabi further added that a tender for the construction of LNG carriers was to initially ‘deliver 60 LNG carriers in support of the planned production expansion, with a potential to exceed 100 new carriers over the next decade’.

In May 2019, three further announcements were made by QP. The first awarded contracts for a total of eight offshore jackup drilling rigs, which should be mobilised and ready for drilling activities from January 2020. Contracts for six of the eight rigs were awarded to Gulf Drilling International (GDI), with the remaining two rigs awarded to Northern Offshore Drilling Operations Limited, operating out of the US. The contracts are for terms ranging from two to four years, with exercisable options to extend the drilling programme durations as necessary.

Next QP issued the Invitation to Tender Package for EPC to expand its common lean LNG storage, and the loading and export facilities for the NFE project. The tender package is for the EPC of three LNG storage tanks; compressors to recover tank boil off gas during storage and jetty boil off gas during LNG vessel loading; LNG rundown lines from the LNG trains to the LNG storage area; two additional LNG berths with an option for a third LNG berth; and loading and return lines from the LNG berths to the tanks. The award will be made by February 2020.

Finally, later in May QP awarded the FEED contract for the project’s offshore pipelines and topsides facilities to McDermott Middle East Inc. The scope includes engineering design for eight unmanned wellhead platform topsides, four 38” trunk lines and four 28” intrafield lines, and is expected to take 12 months to complete.

About the North Field

​In 1971, exploration engineers discovered natural gas off Qatar’s northeast coast, without realising just how important the find was. However, over the next 14 years, 15 appraisal wells had been drilled, and it was established that the North Field was the largest non-associated natural gas field in the​ world, with recoverable reserves of more than 900 trillion standard cubic feet (tscf) – approximately 10% of the world’s known reserves.​ This find makes Qatar the third largest holder of proven gas reserves in the world, after Russia and Iran. The North Field will supply gas to fulfil multiple large-scale renewable gas sales contracts for many decades to come.  ​​​

The North Field covers an area of more than 6,000 sq km, approximately half the land area of the State of Qatar.​​ Commercial exploration of North Field gas resources started in late 1991 with initial gas production from Phase I (Alpha Project). A moratorium was imposed in 2005 as the country wanted to study the impact on the reservoir from the rapid increase in output – this was lifted in 2017 following the announcement to increase production to 100 mn tons per annum by 2024. 

The development of this major natural resource has been a significant factor in Qatar’s economic growth. The gas produced from this giant field is processed to produce LNG, gas-to-liquids (GTL), natural gas liquids (NGL), and other gas-related industries, as well as pipeline gas for export.

Author: Sarah Palmer

This feature is an editorial from the ‘Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals’ section in the latest issue of Marhaba – Issue 75, published in August 2019.

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