A multi-billion dollar signature. Qatar Energy and TotalEnergies have signed a major agreement, paving the way for the French oil and gas giant to take a major stake in the development of a huge gas field. The announcement was made during a joint press conference of the two CEOs, Patrick Pouyanné on the French side, and Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, also Qatari Minister of Energy, on the other.
The French giant already signed a more than $2 billion deal with Doha in June for the development of the world’s largest natural gas field, the North Field East (NFE) project. This new signing now opens up participation in the North Field South (NFS) project. These two projects are extensions of the offshore North Field, the largest natural gas field in the world that the Gulf country shares with Iran.
“A reinforced strategic role”
According to Qatar Energy, it represents 10% of natural gas reserves in the world, and extends under the sea to the Iranian basement. The Islamic Republic, for its part, has difficulty in exploiting its part of the deposit, due to Western sanctions. Qatar is already one of the largest LNG producers in the world, along with the United States and Australia, and aims to increase its production by more than 60% by 2027.
TotalEnergies “will have a stronger strategic role” in gas development in Qatar, said Saad Sherida al-Kaabi. “With a share of 9.375%, QE announces that it has selected TotalEnergies as a partner for the development of North Field South,” reported the Qatari press agency QNA. “Other partners will be revealed at a later stage,” according to the news agency, as Doha confirms talks with Britain. The participation of foreign companies in this project should be around 25%, according to the Qatari authorities.
While Europe had long opposed long-term agreements with the emirate, the war in Ukraine changed the situation. Some EU countries, such as Germany, are indeed particularly dependent on Russian gas, and are now investing in LNG terminals to diversify their supply. But this signing also comes a few weeks before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. While Patrick Pouyanné was negotiating the contract for TotalEnergies, French government spokesman Olivier Véran said this week that considering a boycott was “complicated”, evading criticism of respect for human rights.
According to Amnesty International, at least 6,500 workers are said to have died on the World Cup sites, and the air conditioning of the stadiums raises serious questions at the time after a summer when the consequences of global warming were particularly violent. In addition, the set of projects linked to North Field constitutes one of the most important “carbon bombs” recently identified by scientists, the exploitation of which would make it impossible to meet the objective of the Paris agreements on climate.