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    Iran, Qatar in Competition Over World’s Biggest Gas Field



Qatar is busy extracting gas from the joint South Pars gas field relying on foreign investment and expertise. Expert says Iran, Qatar in competition over world’s biggest gas field with Iran.

by: Iran desk

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Top Stories, Caspian Focus, News By Country, Iran, Qatar, Expert Views

Iran, Qatar in Competition Over World’s Biggest Gas Field

In a situation where Iranian elites and experts are quarrelling over whether oil is a “blessing” or “curse”, and under the circumstances that the new Iranian oil contract model is translated as “dependence”, “inattention to domestic capabilities”, and “plunder”, our tiny neighbor Qatar is busy extracting gas from the joint South Pars gas field relying on foreign investment and expertise.

Based on statistics, Qatar is producing 650 million cubic meters of gas per day from its section of the field, which is called the North Dome in Qatar and South Pars in Iran.

Iran is producing 430 million cubic meters of gas from the field, meaning a 6 to 10 share compared to Qatar. Some resources say the share is 5 to 10.

But, this is not the whole story. Iran’s developmental plans are being implemented under the government’s special attention. Therefore, Iran will be gradually getting closer to Qatar once the remaining phases of the South Pars are inaugurated.

In the current year, the focus is on phases 15-16 and 17-18. Iranian officials have said that all the phases will come on stream over the next two years provided that required financial resources are met. This issue may raise Iran’s production to 770 million cubic meters per day.

Since March 2014, Iran has increased its gas output by 200 million cubic meters per day. The managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company has said that by boosting 100 million cubic meters per day of gas in the current year, Iran is ready to outpace Qatar, because seven phases of the South Pars will come on stream this year.

Some statistics indicate that the volume of recoverable gas in Iran’s and Qatar’s sides is 10 trillion cubic meters and 24.2 trillion cubic meters, respectively. This issue shows that some one third of Iran’s gas reserves and about one hundred percent of Qatar’s reserves are located in this field.

This should be noted that Qatar started producing gas from the field 11 years prior to Iran and took some 214 billion cubic meters of gas during the period until 2002.

In response to Iran, Qatar has also launched its own plans to speed up and boost production.

From 2002 to 2014, Iran extracted some 710 billion cubic meters of gas, while Qatar extracted 70 percent more than Iran, equaling 1242 billion cubic meters.

If that 11-year period is added, the Qatar to Iran production ratio will be 2 to 1.




Gas reserve







Share of world’s total


Share of world’s total















*Iran and Qatar gas reserves, productions, and exports – Source: BP year 2014

In general, Iran’s annual production is about 5 billion cubic meters less than Qatar’s. But, the routes for exports and the types of products lead to a notable difference in incomes, export destinations, customers, and target markets.

It should be noted that since 2002, we have been witnessing fluctuations in extraction of gas by the two countries. For example, in the second and third years of production, a speedy trend was seen by Iran, so that its share of production was 47 percent.

But, Qatar increased production from the field in 2007 to the extent that Iran’s production from the field in 2012 was just one third of Qatar’s production.

Since 2013, Iran’s share of production rose to 35 percent which was a result of inaugurating phase 12 and developing phases 15 and 16. However, Qatar’s share is still double of Iran’s share. In 2014, Iran and Qatar extracted 95 billion cubic meters and 177 billion cubic meters of gas, respectively.

Some 99 percent of Qatar’s gas production is related to this gas field and Iran’s share is 45-55 percent. Official statistics put the figure at 55 percent (some 430 million cubic meters per day), although this cannot be considered as a fixed sum for a year due to some reasons.

It is predicted that Iran’s share to increase by at least 30 billion cubic meters in 2015, reaching 125 billion cubic meters.

Once the remaining phases comes on-stream, the output will increase by 40 billion cubic meters. Provided that Qatar’s extraction remains unchanged, the two countries’ output will become nearly equal.

Italy’s ENI has recently reported that Iran’s gas production rose by seven percent in 2014, outpacing Qatar, and became the world’s third gas producers next to the U.S. and Russia.

Under the current conditions and with the hope for a lifting of sanctions, the Oil Ministry needs support of all the executive and legal bodies to finance the South Pars gas field projects.

Pooya Nematollahi, Iranian expert on energy issues

  • Some statistics, mentioned in article were cited on energy expert Sadegh Roozbehi’s article, published on Daily Shargh.