(EnergyAsia, May 31 2012, Thursday) — The world’s leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, Qatar, is using its rapidly accumulating wealth to acquire stakes in leading natural resource companies around the world including the Western majors.

The Middle East powerhouse is making its investments through sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which has more than US$100 billion in assets and reserves, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

With a budget of more than US$30 billion this year to acquire stakes in natural resources companies this year, QIA has bought stakes of three percent in France’s Total and more than two percent in Royal Dutch Shell, and is negotiating for a piece of Italy’s ENI.

Total and Shell are major investors in Qatar’s natural gas industry, while Qatar Petroleum and Shell are partners in a petrochemical company in Singapore.
 
In April, the Qatar Asset Management Company (QAMC), a partially-owned QIA subsidiary, and Barclays Natural Resource Investments (BNRI), a division of Barclays Bank PLC, announced they had formed a US$250 million strategic partnership to invest in natural resources projects.
 
Qatar’s economy grew by more than 19% last year and 17% in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund.