CEO: Qatar Petroleum Seeks International Projects in Cyprus, Morocco

Reuters

DOHA, Feb 6 (Reuters) - State-owned energy giant Qatar Petroleum (QP) is exploring oil and gas in Morocco and Cyprus as it aims to expand its liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets abroad while trimming costs at home, chief executive Saad al-Kaabi said on Monday.

"You will see us going internationally with some of the partners we have in Qatar, this year and next year... We are in growth mode," Kaabi told reporters at the company's headquarters in Doha.

QP, the world's largest LNG producer, has been pursuing deals in Cyprus where it "won a bid for 40 percent of a plot for exploration" and recently "went into Morocco for exploration", Kaabi said.

QP is merging two liquefied natural gas divisions, Qatargas and RasGas Co Ltd, to save hundreds of millions of dollars following a more-than-two-year slump in oil prices that has forced Gulf countries to reduce state spending.

The economy of the tiny Gulf monarchy, which has a population of 2.6 million, has been strained by the oil slump and QP has fired thousands of staff and earmarked a number of assets for divestment.

To maintain dominance over key competitors the United States and Australia, QP is reducing costs at its domestic operations and looking to expand overseas through joint ventures with international oil companies, Kaabi said.

He added that supplies of LNG from the United States were not a threat to business.

"I'm not worried at all about a gas glut. Gas is going to be needed for a very long time," Kaabi said.

Qatar, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), shipped 76.4 million tonnes of LNG in 2014, or 32 percent of global supply, according to the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers.

A moratorium on new Qatari gas production since 2005 has hobbled domestic expansion opportunities as domestic crude output declines.

In November, QP received U.S. regulatory approval to build a $10 billion LNG plant with partner Exxon Mobil.

The company is also interested in the Mozambique gas business of Italian energy group Eni and could opt to join Exxon in buying a multibillion-dollar stake, Reuters reported in September.

(Reporting by Tom Finn and Rania El Gamal; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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