DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar can stay under a “blockade forever” as it is well prepared and its oil and gas industries will not be affected, the chief executive of Qatar Petroleum said on Tuesday, referring to an economic boycott imposed by several other Arab countries.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have taken measures to isolate Qatar, said the sanctions could last for years unless Doha accepted demands that the Arab powers plan to reveal in coming days.
The Saudi-led alliance accused Qatar, the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer, of “supporting terrorism” and working secretly with Iran, the arch-foe of Saudi Arabia. Qatar denies the accusations.
“With what we have prepared, we can stay under the blockade forever, and our gas and oil industries will not be affected,”
Qatar Petroleum CEO Saad al-Kaabi said in an interview aired by the Doha-based Al Jazeera satellite network.
“We (still) import everything we need for our industries, maybe except some logistical needs, and UAE’s port of Jebel Ali will be the biggest loser (in the dispute), not us.”
Shipping lines normally transship cargoes from Jebel Ali to Qatar, which relies heavily on imports by sea and land. But after the boycott was announced, Qatar secured deals with suppliers to ship directly to it instead of via Jebel Ali.
Al-Kaabi said his small, peninsular country had found alternative ways to export directly from Doha, solving a halt in Qatari helium output. Qatar, the world’s second largest helium producer, closed its two helium production plants, run by a subsidiary of state-owned Qatar Petroleum, last week.
Al-Kaabi also said Qatar was still importing whatever it needed despite the boycott, and investors had full confidence in the country, with foreign investments in Qatari oil and gas industries having reached 250 billion riyal ($66.67 billion).
Earlier this year, Qatar lifted a self-imposed ban on development of the world’s biggest natural gas field, shared with Iran, in a move to see off an expected rise in competition.
The vast offshore gas field, which Doha calls the North Field and Iran calls South Pars, accounts for nearly all of Qatar’s gas output and around 60 percent of its export revenue.
The Qatar Petroleum CEO said his country would increase oil production by 10 percent, or 400,000 barrels per day, after boosting North Field GAS? output in the coming 5-7 years.
“We are small in size but with big influence...Any disruption in our (gas) production will affect many countries at different levels,” Al-Kaabi said.
Qatar has said it will not cut off gas to the UAE despite the diplomatic row and a “force majeure” clause in its contract.
Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Heinrich