As the plane starts its evening descent to Doha, thousands of bright orange lights are dotting the coastline beneath us. This is unmistakably Ras Laffan, the world’s largest LNG liquefaction plant, accounting for nearly one third of the global production.
The taxi drives us towards an exuberant skyline rising far above the shallow gulf waters. We stop at Souq Waqif, a lively district that retains the atmosphere of what was, not so long ago, a small harbor for fishermen and pirates. Oil and LNG have reshaped the country drastically.
But every golden age has an end. USA’s shale gas reserves on one side, and Australia’s flurry of LNG projects on the other, are two giant jaws ready to devour the Qatari cake.
The emirate has many energy-hungry neighbors. But India or Pakistan won’t hesitate to benchmark sellers, whereas Egypt will soon have quenched its thirst thanks to a huge domestic gas find. As a result, quite a few more Qatari cargos might have to pay the Suez canal to find a home.
In the streets of Souq Waqif, the atmosphere is relaxed. Nobody really seems to worry. After all, so far Qatar has done a great job in marketing their LNG until the last drop.
photo (c) Jean-Christian Heintz