(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited 3 or Ras Laffan 3 said it has started up train 7 at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar. The project, a joint venture of Qatar Petroleum (70%) and ExxonMobil Ras Laffan (3) Limited (30%), represents another expansion of LNG production facilities operated by RasGas Company Limited.

Ras Laffan 3 Train 7 is the fourth 7.8 million tons per year LNG plant brought online by the QP-ExxonMobil joint ventures over the past 12 months. It matches the capacity of Ras Laffan 3 Train 6, one of the largest operating LNG production facilities in the world, inaugurated last October.

These mega facilities have sufficient scale to competitively reach markets around the globe. They are fed by Qatar’s giant North Field, which is estimated to hold in excess of 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Ras Laffan 3 is part of a full value-chain investment that includes the facilities associated with natural gas production and liquefaction in Qatar. Also involved are investments by affiliates of Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil in 12 new, more efficient Q-Flex LNG vessels and one Q-Max LNG vessel.

The Q-Flex and Q-Max designs can carry about 45% and 80%, respectively, more LNG than the average carrier operating today and can access LNG terminals in all of the world’s major LNG markets.

The final key component of the value chain is the Golden Pass LNG terminal, under construction near Sabine Pass in the US state of Texas, capable of re-gasifying 15.6 million tons per year of LNG. The joint venture consists of affiliates of Qatar Petroleum (70%), ExxonMobil (17.6%) and ConocoPhillips (12.4%) and is expected to start up in 2010. 

Qatar has become the world’s largest LNG supplier. Through successful joint ventures with Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil has an interest in 12 trains in Qatar to supply LNG to major markets in Asia, Europe and North America.
Neil Duffin, president, ExxonMobil Development Company, said:

“The startup of Ras Laffan 3 Train 7 represents a significant accomplishment in the further development of natural gas from the North Field to help supply growing global energy demand. Initiating LNG production from Ras Laffan 3 Train 7 marks another major milestone in the unprecedented effort between Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil to design and effectively implement the largest liquefaction trains, LNG vessels and terminals in the world.

“We are particularly proud of our unique and historic partnership with Qatar Petroleum, the government and people of Qatar and believe our joint success is a testament to what is possible when national and international energy companies work together. We have achieved industry-leading performance and delivery of projects, while effectively protecting sensitive environments.”