Dolphin gas network deal to be signed in March

Feb 14, 2001 01:00 AM

A final agreement between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates Offsets Group (UOG) to construct a $ 10 bn Middle Eastern gas network will be signed in mid-March, the UOG said. The network, known as the Dolphin project, will deliver up to 3 bn cfpd of gas a day through a pipeline starting in the Qatari capital Doha and running through Abu Dhabi, Dubai and on to Oman.
It is politically important because it could help foster closer links between the six states of the Gulf Co-operation Council and speed up the privatisation of state controlled industries in the region. Work to start construction of the pipeline has been delayed a number of times due to disagreements between the UAE and Qatar on the transfer price of gas between the two sides. Industry observers expressed some doubt that negotiations had been completed but said the announcement appeared to show progress was being made.
"Many trans-national projects in the Gulf have had a credibility problem in the past but it does appear that the political issues with Dolphin are being ironed out," said Angus Hindley, deputy editor of the Middle East Economic Digest.
The UOG's statement confirms remarks earlier by Qatar's oil minister that the agreement would be signed within weeks. A UOG official said the commercial terms were confidential but analysts estimate that the delivered price of the gas will be around $ 1 per mm Btu.

Demand for gas in the UAE is growing rapidly because of industrial development and the need to reinject gas to boost falling production levels in mature oil wells. First gas is scheduled to reach Abu Dhabi in late 2004 or early 2005 -- about two years later than the date given by the UOG a year ago.
Initially the pipeline will carry 2 bn cfpd but will have the capability to be upgraded to 3 cfpd at a later date. In the long term the Dolphin group is considering a second phase of construction which would take a further 1.5 bn cfpd to Pakistan and India.
The UOG developed in 1992 out of a strategy to leverage defence procurement into international investment in the UAE but has since evolved into a venture capital organisation. UOG last year sold 49 % of the project, split evenly, to Enron, the US energy group, and TotalFinaElf.
Enron will focus on constructing the pipeline, marketing the gas and project risk management, while Total will develop gas production from a block in Qatar's North Field. An Enron official confirmed that it had completed a feasibility study for the project and was now developing firm plans for the network.

Source: The Financial Times Limited
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