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Qatar energy minister hails China partnerships on LNG, renewables, supertankers

Qatar has seen “promising” cooperation with China on energy development, from traditional areas of liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade to renewables and construction of a fleet of supertankers, its energy minister said on Tuesday.

“We have very good relations with the Chinese authorities and companies,” Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi said at the ministry’s headquarters in downtown Doha.

“I met all the Chinese entities that are related to energy and all chairmen, who are very good friends,” said al-Kaabi, who two weeks ago was in Beijing to sign the world’s most valuable shipbuilding contract for the construction of LNG vessels.

“The shipbuilding industry of [South] Korea is where we went to [buy] all our ships in the past. Now, because of the size of what we’re trying to build, and also because of the improvement and capabilities, [it is] the Chinese shipyard that we are using.”

The US$6 billion order from Doha-controlled QatarEnergy will see China State Shipbuilding Corporation build 18 tankers with individual capacities of 271,000 cubic metres (889,000 cu ft) – 57 per cent larger than standard LNG tankers.

The deal has further challenged South Korean dominance in the high-end shipping sector, where the country has long been known for making some of the world’s most advanced vessels, including LNG carriers and passenger cruise liners.

The Gulf state was “very proud to have a relationship with the Chinese shipyards”, al-Kaabi said.

He said that behind the LNG shipping deal, there was also strong demand for natural gas from China, which had become Qatar’s largest customer for the resource.

The two countries last year secured their second 27-year supply deal, with QatarEnergy set to supply 4 million tonnes of gas per year to state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China’s largest oil and gas company.

This followed an identical deal in 2022 between QatarEnergy and Sinopec, China’s No 2 state-owned gas company.


What is China doing about climate change?

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Sinopec has also acquired a 5 per cent stake in the eastern expansion of Qatar’s North Field liquefied natural gas project, which is forecast to have a capacity of 8 million tonnes per year.

Qatar announced in February that it aims to expand output from its gas field, adding a further 16 million tonnes of LNG per year to existing expansion plans, with China National Petroleum Corp also taking an equity stake in the eastern expansion.

Al-Kaabi described China’s progress on renewable energy as “impressive”, adding that “I think China is going to be a big player in renewables”.

“[China] is already the biggest player in solar panels and most of the wind farms that have been built in [the country] … you know, the supply chain to the world is really through China,” he said.

China’s renewable energy production totalled 2.7 terawatt-hours and accounted for 30.8 per cent of total electricity output in 2022, according to government data – close to the 14th five-year plan target of 33 per cent renewables by 2025.

According to al-Kaabi, the Chinese market’s potential – such as its “quite large population” – means it can “cover everything that you want to do”, giving as an example its development of electric vehicles at a time of slower economic growth.


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