Qatar seen restarting new LNG train mid-May
Doha, April 27, 2009
The world's largest liquefied natural gas production (LNG) facility in Qatar will probably restart in mid-May, an industry source said on Monday, more than a month after its official inauguration.
The start-up of the train, which was initially planned for the winter of 2007, has been delayed several times as labour and equipment shortages in the country slowed down a number of simultaneous energy projects under construction.
The train's gas output was to supply Britain.
"Qatargas train four was expected to start again in the middle of May," the source familiar with Qatargas operations said.
Qatargas declined to give a new date for the restart when contacted by Reuters. "Train four was expected to restart in the near-term," a Qatargas spokesperson said on Monday. "It's a big train, it is normal commissioning work."
The train, the industry term for an LNG plant, was shut down for more commissioning work in March shortly after shipping its first cargo of LNG to India. Qatar officially inaugurated the train on April 6, but it has yet to ship a second cargo.
Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is expected to double its LNG capacity this year to 62 million tonnes per year after three more trains come on stream.
LNG is gas cooled to a liquid to be transported by ships.
Qatargas's train four has capacity to produce 7.8 million tonnes of LNG per year. It also had capacity to produce around 140,000 barrels per day of condensates, or light oil.
Shipments of condensates should increase in May after Qatar delayed cargoes in April due to the later-than-expected restart of the LNG train, the source said.
Earlier this month, Qatar's state-owned marketing company Tasweeq asked several lifters to delay April-loading shipments and to lift reduced volumes of Deodorized Field Condensate (DFC) because of lower-than-planned output resulting from production problems, traders said this month.
"Qatargas train four was expected to supply three cargoes of DFC in April," the source said. "Schedules for loadings have been revised with customers, some customers have cut quantities a little bit and substituted for other condensate grades."
The LNG train was expected to ship its first LNG cargo to what will be Europe's largest LNG import terminal at South Hook in Wales, when it enters commercial operations next month. Qatargas's train four and five will have the capacity to meet a fifth of Britain's gas demand.
Exxon Mobil Corp. owns 30 percent of Qatargas train four, while QP owns the rest. Qatar's LNG production is divided between Qatargas and Rasgas and both are majority owned by QP.
Qatar aims to boost its LNG capacity to 77 million tonnes a year by 2010, as it brings more of the world's largest LNG trains into production. It is also building the world's largest LNG vessels to transport shipments to its customers.
Qatar is one of Opec's smallest oil producers. It produced around 740,000 barrels per day in March, according to Reuters estimates. - Reuters