China in talks with Qatar for gas stakes worth billions

CHINA’S energy majors are in discussions to invest billions in Qatar’s massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion project, according to a person familiar with the situation.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Sinopec are expected to invest in Qatar’s US$29 billion (RM127.65 billion) North Field East project, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. The companies are looking to procure LNG under long-term contracts, two people familiar with the matter said. Reuters earlier reported the news.

Spokespeople for CNPC and Sinopec weren’t immediately available to comment. State-energy producer Qatar Energy didn’t respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.

LNG importers are rushing to secure supply deals as a global shortage is expected to persist for much of the decade amid Europe’s moves to curb Russian pipeline gas. Spot prices for gas in Asia and Europe surged to a record soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, exacerbating a supply crunch for the power plant and heating fuel.

Officials from Qatar Energy came to Singapore earlier this month to meet with Chinese companies, according to two other people. They met with companies including CNPC’s PetroChina and Sinopec, as well as Cnooc Ltd and Beijing Gas Group Co, regarding long-term LNG deals, the people said. Cnooc and Beijing Gas weren’t immediately available for comment.

China, which overtook Japan as the world’s largest LNG importer in 2021, has been particularly busy signing supply deals with major exporters including the US this last year.

The potential investment by the Chinese firms in Qatar’s expansion follows TotalEnergies SE, which became the first foreign company to win a stake. Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips are also poised to win stakes, Bloomberg reported earlier this month, while Shell Plc put in a bid.

The North Field East expansion will include the construction of four LNG liquefaction units, or trains. CNPC and Sinopec are expected to invest a 5% stake each in two separate export trains at the plant, Reuters reported. – Bloomberg