This week Total is celebrating 80 years in Qatar, a young, fast-growing country that is home to the world’s third-largest gas reserves, after Russia and Iran. Guillaume Chalmin, Group Representative in Qatar, took this opportunity to provide a brief overview of our history, activities and outlook in the country.
Total is celebrating 80 years in Qatar. Could you tell us a little about our history there?
Guillaume Chalmin / We first started working in Qatar in 1936 when Iraq Petroleum Company, in which Total was a shareholder, was awarded an onshore concession in which the country’s first oil field, Dukhan, was discovered. We expanded into petrochemicals with the creation of QAPCO in 1974. And then, 10 years later, the launch of Qatargas marked the start of an exciting adventure in LNG. In 2007, we hit another milestone with the start-up of Dolphin, the first gas pipeline project in the Gulf countries — in this particular case Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Our history is studded with other successes, such as the discovery of the Al Khalij field in 1991 and the start-up of the Ras Laffan condensate refinery in 2009. We’re very proud of our longevity, unique among the IOCs. It reflects our loyalty to our host countries.
Why is Qatar strategically important for Total?
G. C. / Above all, because it has significant gas resources. Qatar is home to the world’s largest gas field, the North Field, which extends into Iran, where it is known as South Pars. But also because we have world-class assets across the oil and gas value chain; most offer a good return, even when oil prices are low. As well, Qatar is politically stable with a business environment favorable to long-term investments. And let’s not forget that national oil company Qatar Petroleum owns a 15% interest in Total E&P Congo and the Qatari sovereign wealth fund is a Total shareholder.
We already have a solid asset portfolio and a presence across the value chain. Are there other development opportunities for us in the country?
G. C. / Yes, there are. For example, we’re currently doubling the capacity of the Ras Laffan refinery, to around 300,000 barrels per day. In the Upstream, several oil and gas production sharing agreements are expiring in the coming years. One is Al Shaheen, the country’s largest oil field, for which a competitive tender open to IOCs is being held. In petrochemicals, we’re looking at expanding our two ethane crackers. And Qatar is also interested in developing solar power.
How can we maintain an equally strong relationship with our Qatari partners going forward?
G. C. / Thanks to our long history in the country, we’ve shown that we’re not just a fair-weather friend; no matter how hard the times or the challenges, we can always be counted on. Our trust-based relationship with Qatar is probably the most valuable asset handed down by our predecessors. Our job today is to maintain this relationship by meeting the country’s expectations in terms of operational excellence and contributing to its economic and social development.