Qatar Energy signed a deal with Eni on Sunday on the Gulf Arab state’s North Field East expansion, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, following on from an agreement with TotalEnergies earlier this month.
Qatar is partnering with international companies in the first and largest phase of the nearly $30 billion expansion that will boost Qatar’s position as the world’s top LNG exporter.
Qatar Energy CEO Saad al-Kaabi said Eni would own 25 percent of a new joint venture, giving it a 3.12 percent stake in the expansion that is expected to deliver its first gas in early 2026.
“It is a strategic move for Eni, which expands Eni’s presence in the Middle East and gains access to a world leading LNG producer,” Eni said in a statement.
Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi told a news conference the project’s low carbon footprint appealed to the company. LNG is not emissions-free, but is particularly prized as Europe seeks alternatives to Russian energy, especially those that avoid the need for using carbon-intensive coal.
Oil majors have been bidding for four trains – or liquefaction and purification facilities. TotalEnergies had said it will have 25 percent of one virtual train, giving it a share of around 6.25 percent of the four.
The North Field is part of the world’s biggest gas field that Qatar shares with Iran, which calls its share South Pars.
In all, the North Field Expansion plan includes six LNG trains that will ramp up Qatar’s liquefaction capacity from 77 million tons per annum (mtpa) to 126 mtpa by 2027. The fifth and sixth trains are part of a second phase, North Field South.
Exxon Mobil Corp, Shell and ConocoPhillips will also participate in the North Field expansion, sources have said.
Kaabi has said that once the investments have been completed, Asian buyers are expected to make up half the market for the project and European buyers the rest.
Total, Exxon, Shell, Italy’s Eni and Chevron have offered Qatar Energy opportunities to invest in prize assets they hold overseas. Qatar Energy and Eni are partners in oil and gas projects in Oman, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique and Kenya.