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Natural gas industry in the Middle East - statistics & facts

As of 2020, the total volume of liquified natural gas traded worldwide was 488 billion cubic meters. The trading volume has steadily increased in the past 50 years. The global average spot charter rate for a 160,000 cubic meter liquefied natural gas storage vessel was around 59.3 thousand U.S. dollars per day in the same year.

Though the United States and Russia are the largest natural gas producers worldwide, the Middle East is still a major player in the energy sector, as the region houses the worlds largest natural gas reserves. The leading players of the natural gas sector from the Middle East are Iran, with a production volume of 244.2 billion cubic meters, and Qatar, with over 178 billion cubic meters. Saudi Arabia is the ninth largest gas producer with 113.6 billion cubic meters. The natural gas power generation capacity in the Middle East will grow from around 965.4 terawatt hours to over 1,667 terawatt hours by 2035.

There are three active gas fields in the Middle East. The leading gas field is located offshore in the Persian Gulf and is shared between Qatar and Iran. Increasing the production of gas was Qatar’s long-term plan to diversify from crude oil. Qatar is therefore the world’s leading exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG).

Due to the long war with Iraq and foreign embargos until the 90s, oil and gas exports were not a priority for the Iranian government. The country only started to increase its potential in the energy sector since the government of the reformist president Khatami. However, there has been tension between Qatar and Iran regarding the usage of shared oilfields and the output amount from both countries.

A significant export mode of Middle Eastern gas is through midstream pipelines. Iran has the largest network with a total length of over 30 thousand kilometers. It was followed by Saudi Arabia with almost 13 thousand kilometers in pipeline length. The majority of Qatari gas is shipped as liquified natural gas.

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