In 1935, oil was first discovered in Qatar and was granted to the Qatar Petroleum Company (QP). QP found high-quality oil after continuous exploration efforts in 1940 at Dukhan, the western side of the Qatari peninsula. In 1973, oil production and revenues increased significantly and moved Qatar out of the rankings of a poor country, which accounted for 62% of total government revenue. In 1996, exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) began from Ras Laffan and would soon allow Qatar to be the leader in LNG exports.
Qatar has been a member of OPEC since 1961. With proved reserves of crude oil estimated at 25.2 billion barrels by the Oil & Gas Journal (as of January 2015), Qatar holds the 9th largest reserves in OPEC and 13th largest in the world. Qatar’s crude oil and lease condensate production ranks 17th in the world, with most of the country’s production sent abroad as exports. Umm Said, one of the three essential exporting terminals of natural resources, is the main location for oil refining and exporting. A majority of the oil is exported to Asian countries, arguably the location of the fastest growing economies in the world, in which Qatar is Japan’s largest energy importer.
Since 1996, Ras Laffan has been exporting natural gas through pipelines to nearby Gulf Countries and using LNG tankers to supply the rest of the world’s energy demand. Qatar hold’s the world’s 3rd largest natural gas reserve and is the single largest supplier of LNG. Ras Laffan is the largest non-associated natural gas field and hold’s 15% of the world’s natural gas reserve. Ras Laffan is mainly used to export LNG and is operated by Qatargas, controlled by Qatar Petroleum (51%), ExxonMobil (10%) and Total (10%). Ras Laffan has planned to double its refining capacity by 2014 to upwards of 700,000 barrels per day. QatarGas and RasGas (30% ExxonMobil) hold the largest stake in the LNG sector as a whole, as well as the Ras Laffan region.
Natural gas meets most of Qatar’s domestic energy demand, so the country is able to export most of its liquid fuels production. Given its small population, Qatar’s energy needs are met almost entirely by domestic sources.
American companies that are heavily invested in the energy sector and have ownership stakes in various Qatari energy companies include:
Energy Related Information from the Energy Information Administration:
Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration – Independent Statistics and Analysis