Trade and Finance

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Qatar Pushing Huge Gas Project

Qatar has begun implementing long-term plans for an international gas pipeline distribution network in the Gulf region and for large exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) to the Far East, particularly Japan. The country is spending $1.3 billion on the first phase of developing the North Field. With an estimated 150 trillion cubic feet of reserves, this field is the biggest off-shore gas deposit in the world and should provide Qatar with revenues well into the next century.

The Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC) hopes to supply Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and possibly Saudi Arabia. The main market for QGPC gas is expected to be Kuwait, which could provide an outlet for as much as 1 billion cubic feet/day. Prospects also appear bright for sales to Bahrain, which will need additional gas supplies to meet future summer demand peaks, and Dubai, which is building a number of industrial projects beyond its own fuel supply capacity.

In addition to regional sales, Qatar hopes to sign up Japanese LNG customers. The QGPC has sent a number of high-level sales missions to Tokyo in the belief that the North Field's enormous reserves will give it an edge over established Japanese suppliers who are pushing to step up LNG deliveries during the 1990s.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has agreed to invest $400 million in the first phase of the North Field. The QGPC advises that several other international groups are considering advancing approximately $700 million in loans.

US at '91 Dubai Aerospace Show

The US Pavilion at the Dubai '91 International Aerospace Exhibition, January 27-31, 1991, will be the first officially sponsored presence at this annual event and the first certified American pavilion at an aerospace show held in the Middle East. Although 18 US firms participated in last year's event, our embassy in Dubai complained that "the impact of their presence suffered because of the lack of a coordinated and effective marketing and publicity campaign."

The aerospace exhibition held last year was the region's first combined civil and defense air show, the largest ever such exhibition in the Middle East, with 200 exhibitors from 24 countries and over 8,000 trade and professional visitors from 30 countries.

US exports of missiles, aircraft, engines and parts to the Middle East totalled $2.8 billion last year. Exports of civil and military aircraft, which amounted to $1.31 billion in 1989, accounted for 45 percent of total American exports to the region. Bahrain was the area's top buyer of American civil and military aircraft last year, importing $297 million of US manufactures.

Iraq Seeks Foreign Oil Financing

Iraq is planning to invite foreign oil companies to participate in financing the development of new oil fields, in a policy reversal which reflects the financial pressures facing the country after its war with Iran.

This move is expected to be welcomed by international oil firms which are interested in gaining access to new oil reserves as they find it increasingly more difficult to replace current production.

Mr. Issam Al-Chalabi, Iraqi Minister of Oil, said in an interview with Platt's Week, a leading oil journal, that a political decision had been made to permit foreign oil companies back into the country and that preliminary approaches already had been made to several firms. "Foreign participation will give us the option of increasing production without putting pressure on our finances," Al-Chalabi said.

The precise terms for foreign participation in Iraq remain unclear. Minister Al-Chalabi has ruled out the possibility of a production-sharing deal, an arrangement common in other countries and which international oil companies would prefer. …