Feb 26, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Qatar expands LNG push as the U.S. takes a breath

Illustration of a liquefied natural gas tanker wobbling atop a pointed finger

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Qatari officials unveiled plans to further expand its liquefied natural gas export capacity — something that's become a politically charged topic in the United States.

Why it matters: The announcement Sunday is a bet on robust long-term demand driven by Asia.

The latest: State-owned QatarEnergy is adding another 16 million metric tons annually of production by 2030, which would bring its total to 142 by decade's end.

  • "We still think there's a big future for gas for at least 50 years forward and whenever we can technically do more, we'll do more," energy minister and QatarEnergy CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi told reporters in Doha, per Reuters.

The big picture: The U.S. last year became the world's largest LNG exporter, ahead of Qatar and Australia, with shipments pushing or even exceeding 90 million tons, per various estimates.

Friction point: The White House recently paused new export licenses to major markets to review economic and environmental effects of the U.S. surge.

  • Republicans and a few Democrats have bashed the decision.
  • But Biden officials emphasize that U.S. exports are slated to nearly double by 2030, based on projects already approved and under construction.

What's next: Qatar's move will likely fuel arguments that the U.S. is sacrificing market and geopolitical leverage.

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