What were the highlights for Qatar’s energy sector in 2011? What are the main priorities for 2012?
IBRAHIM: These two years, 2011 and 2012, will be, in a sense, an implementation period; the result of what has been done before. When we talk about reaching a capacity of 77m tonnes, now we will be selling 77m tonnes. So it is really a result, or outcome, of what has happened before. We are not expanding our LNG production. These agreements that you’ll notice are simply a divergence from one market to another in order to capture the price differential in each market. We have two big projects. One is already finished, the Pearl, which is GTL. That will produce a tremendous amount and it’s a very costly project. It will produce about 140,000 barrels of clean liquid besides the other production of methane and LPG. Then we have the Barzan project, which was just launched, and hopefully by 2015 it will be completed. This will be mainly to boost the production and utilization of gas in local markets.
What is your general economic forecast for Qatar for 2012?
IBRAHIM: This year, we believe, is going to be single digit economic growth, mainly because the expansion of the oil and gas projects will be very small. It’s about time of course; we are talking about the real economic growth, which is based on diversification, because that number could imply a big growth in non-oil and gas sectors.
As Qatar continues its push towards economic diversification, what role will the energy sector continue to play in the economy?
IBRAHIM: The energy sector will continue to play an important role for a while. Let’s not kid ourselves. We are working very hard to diversify our economy. We are trying to encourage the private sector to become more active. We are encouraging small and medium enterprises. We are increasing our research endowment in order to achieve a knowledge based economy. So we are doing a lot of things in order to diversify our economy, but that will take time. For the immediate, and maybe the mid-term, future, oil and gas will still play a very important role.
What is being done to develop downstream industries in Qatar?
IBRAHIM: We are doing a lot of things. We are creating a different climate. We’re creating what you call Enterprise Qatar in order to encourage Qataris, and others, but mainly Qataris to open businesses and to play a more important role in the business sector. We are trying to put all the institutions that are relevant to this idea, for instance the Qatar Science and Technology Park, Qatar Development Bank, ictQATAR, to work together toward that end.
The energy sector will continue to play an important role for a while. Let’s not kid ourselves...we are doing a lot of things in order to diversify our economy, but that will take time. For the immediate, and maybe the mid-term, future, oil and gas will still play a very important role.
Have any contingencies been put in place in the event that shipping through the Strait of Hormuz is disrupted?
IBRAHIM: We are looking into it. I’m sure we are trying to do something about it. It’s something we really don’t want to, I don’t want to say we want to ignore, but it’s something that we don’t want to think could happen. I think it would be a big disaster to the whole world and would be a disaster to everyone. We are looking into it, but I’m afraid I cannot say much about it.