Although Qatar can be compared to Estonia in terms of its area and population (2 million in 2013), the country has by today become one of the biggest exporters of natural gas and the biggest exporter of liquid gas or LNG in the world.
Vital U.S. ally that is home to a major American military base, Qatar only started exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 1997, but the quantities have shot up by today. With a LNG export capacity of 77 million tons per year in 2011, Qatar has completed its big projects of increasing its liquefied natural gas production capacities and further growth in quantities should come from the technical improvement of the existing equipment. The increase in LNG exports have helped the country catch up with the sudden increase in production quantity that occured in recent years. Qatar can export gas in liquefied form anywhere in the world and focus on the places where the state earns the most income for the gas. The idea at first was to ship LNG by boat to the U.S., which was supposed to help meet the demand of Americans, but the continuously low natural gas prices in the U.S. mean that it is more profitable for Qatar to supply its gas elsewhere, e.g. the United Kingdom, India, Japan and other countries in south-eastern Asia and Europe.
Four of the six GCC* countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – are importers of natural gas and only two are exporters – Qatar and Oman. As the gas exports of Oman are circa 10 percent of the gas exports of Qatar, there is no doubt that Qatar is the most influential supplier of natural gas in the region. The state invests the income earned from sales of natural gas in the diversification of its economy. The country is working on several large projects, which range from airport extension, port expansion, bridge construction, improvement of roads, railways and other infrastructure to the development of massive property projects.
*GCC: Gulf Cooperation Council