DOHA // Qatar's moratorium on further development of its vast North Field gas reservoir will not be lifted until at least 2013, according to a senior executive of Qatar Petroleum. The moratorium will stay in place until all the North Field gas projects currently planned have been brought on stream, "which is probably in 2013 or a little later," Saad al Kaabi, the government-owned petroleum company's director of oil and gas ventures, said earlier today on the sidelines of a gas industry exhibition in the Qatari capital.
As the manager of Qatar Petroleum's entire portfolio of oil and gas assets, Mr al Kaabi oversees the development plan for the North Field reservoir, including technical aspects of the moratorium. He reports directly to the company's chairman and managing director, Abdullah al Attiyah, who is also Qatar's deputy prime minister and energy minister. Holding an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of reserves, the North Field, located offshore Qatar in the Gulf, is the world's biggest gas deposit.
Mr al Kaabi characterised the ban on further gas development, which Qatar's government announced in 2005, as "a technical issue", unrelated to energy prices. The current low prices are not affecting the speed at which Qatar is developing its gas production and export projects, he said. Nonetheless, the government has extended the expected duration of the moratorium at least twice, on grounds that more data was needed to determine how quickly gas could be produced without damaging the reservoir. The reservoir study was originally scheduled for completion this year.