Qatar LNG: New trading patterns but no cause for alarm

As described in a recent Comment (‘Feud Between Brothers: the GCC rift and implications for oil and gas markets’), the severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, amid accusations of supporting extremism have prompted many to ponder the impact on oil and gas markets. This Comment examines the ongoing likely impact on gas markets in more detail. It is argued that the potential loss of 7.7 BCMA of exports of Qatari LNG to UAE and Egypt is not of concern.  Both these importers participate in the LNG spot and short term market and would quickly find alternative suppliers; Qatar would quickly find other markets. The (unlikely) loss of the Dolphin pipeline supply of 17.7 BCMA in 2015 would be more serious.  The UAE and Oman could cope by decreasing LNG exports and using underutilised UAE LNG import capacity to meet their domestic market requirements, but this could involve significant additional costs. This would also reduce LNG supplies to other world importers.  This is less serious against a background of rapidly growing global LNG supply as new projects from the US, Australia and Russia come on stream – in 2017 an additional 30+ BCMA is expected. Any short-term impact would be met by increased flows of Russian pipeline gas to Europe. Routing LNG tankers from Qatar to Europe around the African Cape rather than the Suez Canal could add up to $0.5/mmbtu to Qatar’s transport cost and in the first instance encourage it to divert volumes to Asia.  This would however depress Asian LNG spot prices and incentivise other exporters to target Europe rather than Asian spot markets.

By: Howard Rogers

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