DOHA, (Reuters) – OPEC is unlikely to adjust output quotas at its next meeting in March if oil prices remain at current levels, Qatar’s oil minister said on Tuesday.
“If it stayed in the levels of the $70s I don’t think so,” Abdullah al-Attiyah, told reporters on the sidelines of a MEED conference.
U.S. crude fell $1 to $74.26 a barrel on Tuesday, just marginally off the $75 to $80 a barrel range that top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have said was fair for both consumers and producers.
But uncertainty over the pace of the global economic recovery and with it oil demand was still a big concern, Attiyah said.
“What worries me is the global economy, who can say what growth will be this year.”
On Tuesday, crude came close to a one-month low on concern that fiscal measures by taken by China, the second-largest world oil consumer would restrain oil demand growth.
Demand in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer looked sluggish as refineries there last week continued to process less oil than they have done in 25 years, outside a hurricane season.
Qatar would hit its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production capacity target of 77 million tonnes per year (tpy) by the end of 2010, Attiyah said.
Capacity currently stood at 54 million tpy, he said.
New LNG projects due to start up this year will help to push Qatar’s economic growth to 16 percent in 2010, up from around nine percent last year the central bank governor said on Tuesday.
NORTH FIELD MORATORIUM
Qatar continued to study the impact of rapid development on its North Field, the world’s largest pure gas field, Attiyah said. Qatar’s priority as to ensure its longevity, he added.
“Oil and gas companies maximise production and say “bye-bye Charlie,” he told reporters. “But we are a country and we have to survive.”
Qatar declared a moratorium in 2005 while it studied the impact of rapid development of the field on the reservoir.
The OPEC member will also seek to push through projects delayed because of high construction costs, Attiyah said.
“We deferred some projects in 2008 when construction costs were high, but now costs are coming back down,” he said.
“So contractors should sharpen their pencils because there will be some new projects coming.”
Qatar delayed projects to build a new refinery, a new petrochemical plant and to develop the Barzan gas field.
Qatar and its partner ExxonMobil aimed to award contracts to develop the Barzan field this year, Attiyah said.
Gas from the Barzan field would supply rapidly growing demand in Qatar’s domestic market.
The small Gulf Arab state was aiming to produce about 19 million tonnes of petrochemicals annually in 2010, Attiyah said, adding that a new ethylene cracker at the industrial city of Ras Laffan was starting-up phase.