China's Sinopec to Take Stake in Qatar's North Field LNG Project

(Reuters) — China's Sinopec will take a stake in the eastern expansion of Qatar's North Field LNG project, state energy company QatarEnergy said on Wednesday.

The state-owned Chinese gas giant will take a 5% stake in the equivalent of one North Field East LNG train with capacity of 8 million tonnes per year, a QatarEnergy statement said.

North Field is part of the world's biggest gas field, which Qatar shares with Iran. The Iranian part of the field is known as the South Pars field.

QatarEnergy had previously said that it could give up to 5% stakes in its North Field expansion to what Saad al-Kaabi, the Gulf state's energy minister and CEO of QatarEnergy, described as "value-added partners".

The agreement makes Sinopec the first Asian buyer to take a stake in the project.

Cooperation with QatarEnergy will help improve safety, stability, and reliability in China's supply of clean energy, Sinopec Chairman Ma Yongsheng said on the company's Wechat account on Wednesday, adding that he hopes both sides will explore further collaboration on LNG.

Last November Sinopec signed a deal in which QatarEnergy agreed to supply 4 million tonnes of LNG annually for 27 years - the longest LNG contract signed by Qatar. Sinopec said the agreement was part of an "integrated partnership" and indicated that it could also acquire a stake in Qatar's North Field expansion export facility.

QatarEnergy last year signed five deals for North Field East, the first and larger phase of the two-phase North Field expansion. The expansion includes a total of six LNG trains that will ramp up Qatar's liquefaction capacity to 126 million tonnes per year by 2027, up from the current 77 million tonnes.

It also signed three partnership agreements on the Gulf Arab state's North Field South expansion.

Wednesday's agreement with Sinopec will not affect the stakes of other shareholders in North Field East, QatarEnergy said, adding that the stake is being transferred to Sinopec from QatarEnergy's holding.

"Today's event underscores QatarEnergy's commitment to deepening its relationships with key LNG consumers, while prioritizing long-term strategic partnerships and alignments with world class partners from China," QatarEnergy's Kaabi said.

QatarEnergy has said it plans to retain a 75% stake in the North Field expansion, which will cost at least $30 billion including construction of liquefaction export facilities.

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