Oil and gas forms the backbone of Qatar’s economy, contributing to more than 50% of the country’s total government revenue. The North Gas Field, which was discovered in 1971, has total proven reserves of more than 900 trillion cubic feet – more than 20% of the world’s total natural gas reserves1.
This means that Qatar has the third largest proven natural gas reserve in the world after Russia and Iran, and is the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG). With reserves of approximately 14.6 billion barrels of crude oil and 901 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the growth of the oil and gas industry continues to to be strong2.
The state company, Qatar Petroleum (QP) manages all the processes related to the oil and gas sector in the country. To develop the sector, QP has key partnerships with other foreign companies to allow for synergies in knowledge and skills, and is planning to shift its strategy to increase its output of Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) products through its Pearl GTL plant – the biggest plant of its kind in the world3.
In line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030, the country has made several enhancements to their transport and logistics infrastructure. The upcoming World Cup 2022 has spurred on these developments, which include a new port, US$40 billion worth of rail projects, a new US$14.5 billion international airport as well as an expansive expressway programme between Qatar and Bahrain valued at US$4 billion.
Qatar’s Hamad Port, located 40km south of Doha, officially began operations in the December of 2016. The port is expected to be fully completed in 2020, 10 years ahead of what was scheduled in its Vision 2030 development plan.
The second phase of the project has already started in early 20194. Once completed, it will cover a site of around 20 km2 and include three container terminals. With the new port, it would make it easier to import raw materials into Qatar. Its general cargo terminal will be able to manage 1.7 million tonnes of general goods annually, up to 1 million tonnes of food grains and half a million vehicles.
Qatar Rail is currently in charge of the Qatar Rail Development Programme, which comprises of the Doha Metro, Lusail Light Rail Transit, and a long-distance railway that will connect Saudi Arabia and the larger GCC-wide railway project. The planned Doha Metro will have a network of 100 stations and an overall rail length of 300km – a significant step in modernising the country’s transport system.
It is also investing massively in land transport infrastructure projects. Highway networks will be expanded to 8,500km by 2020, including the building of 200 new bridges and 30 new tunnels5.
Qatar also features a world-class airport – Hamad International Airport – which opened in April 2014 with state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities housed under one roof. It has been recognised as the “World’s Best Airport for Passenger Experience” for two consecutive years6. The Qatar Civil Aviation Authority is working closely with airport owner-operator to upgrade Hamad International Airport to allow for increased capacity and traffic flow, and flag carrier Qatar Airways to expand its fleet and route network7.
6 Airhelp, 2019
7 The World Folio, 2016
Qatar is in the midst of several major infrastructure projects. In the area of environmental infrastructure, for example, it is developing a nationwide deep-tunnel sewage system, along with sewage treatment plants and pumping stations.
Opportunities in the infrastructure services include construction sub-contracting, interior design and fit-outs, facilities management, planning and consultancy, and smart buildings.
Utilities-related infrastructure is another sector to watch out for, as the government is increasingly focusing on renewable energy and aims to fulfill 20% of its electricity needs via solar energy by 2030.
Qatar has one of the highest per capita water consumption rates in the world, and consumes an average of 595 litres of water per resident, per day. Tackling water scarcity and ensuring a constant water supply will be a focus for the country – especially with World Cup 2022 coming up. The country will need adequate water and wastewater infrastructure to cope with the influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors. Independent water and power projects (IWPPs) are expected to account for much of Qatar’s future water supply.
The government has ambitious plans for expanding its water sector, including water desalination and wastewater treatment. This includes US$4.67 billion spent on mega-reservoirs that would be one of the country’s largest water storage expansion project. With these mega-reservoirs, the country can extend their supply of water to 1 week, up from only 48 hours previously.
The government has also worked with Mitsubishi to build Qatar’s first reverse-osmosis water desalination plant. This is in addition their three thermal desalination plants.
For Singapore companies, there are corresponding opportunities in environmental engineering and services, specifically in waste and wastewater treatment, as well as district cooling systems.
Qatar is looking to diversify into petrochemical production, while keeping its foothold on the oil and gas industry. The country aims to increase their production of chemicals to 23 million tonnes per year by 2020 – more than double the 10 million tonnes produced in 2014.
Its petrochemicals projects are concentrated at two locations – Ras Laffan and Mesaieed. The petrochemicals complex at Ras Laffan, with a capacity of more than 1.6 mtpa of ethylene, is Middle East’s largest ethane cracker and one of the world’s largest. The feedstock for their petrochemical complex will be ethane – produced primarily from the North Field liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion8.
Consumers in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have significant disposable income, with the average per capita income in these markets exceeding US$40,000 (S$54,400). In line with rising affluence and busy urban lifestyles, the packaged and processed foods industry in the Middle East is expected to grow at a healthy pace.
Across the region, the food sector has seen increased investments by both foreign and local food manufacturers, as well as private equity firms. Local food service operators are looking at opportunities to invest in food manufacturing facilities which complement their existing businesses. This presents Singapore companies with opportunities for co-investment.
Singapore has also seen strong growth in its food exports to GCC countries, as food importers trust the Singapore brand – due to high product quality and compliance with food safety standards. This awareness is helped by Singapore firms’ regular participation in food trade show Gulfood, with 2019 being the tenth year of participation.