Doha sets course to become 'Saudi Arabia of gas' with $21bn order for new shipping fleet. But with demand and prices sinking, is the emirate heading for the rocks?
Middle East Eye: When Saudi Arabia caused oil prices to tumble in March the impact on oil producers’ revenues was immediate. But in neighbouring Qatar, which is a leading producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the situation is more complicated.
Last year, LNG accounted for $45.3bn (62 percent) of Qatar’s $73.1bn in export revenues. LNG prices are linked to oil and have also plummeted since March, though with one crucial difference.
Qatar exports 77 million tonnes (MT) of LNG a year, but it sells just 6 MT of that on the spot markets for immediate delivery. Most of Qatar’s LNG revenues are tied up in medium and long-term contracts, with a time lag before any drop in oil price is felt by both sellers and buyers.
“Around about 85 percent of Qatar’s gas contracts are linked to oil, with a six-month delay, so in terms of fiscal impact it will only be felt in September. This is a problem, and there’s a debate as to what extent LNG volumes will be impacted,” said a senior member of a state-linked Qatari financial firm speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Saudi Arabia saw the impact [of the oil price drop] immediately, here we’re behind the curve.”