Driven by liquefied natural gas shipments, Qatar’s overall exports reached $133bn in 2012, up 16% on the previous year, recently released data show.
The bulk of the increase came from exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which accounts for around 40% of oil and gas exports, QNB said in its latest economic monitor.
“The production of LNG was close to full capacity in 2011 and maintained the same level in 2012. Therefore, the increase in export earnings from LNG was mainly due to higher prices,” QNB said.
Benchmark Japanese LNG prices were 14% higher in 2012 than in 2011 and EU prices were 9.1% higher.
But exports of crude oil fell by 1.1% in 2012 as production dropped while prices remained largely unchanged. Non-oil exports also grew strongly in 2012, QNB said.
Recently completed manufacturing facilities in petrochemicals, metals and fertilizer sectors in Qatar have helped boost the country’s production and exports in these segments.
“This is a further indication that efforts to diversify the economy are gaining some traction,” QNB said.
Having fallen since 2008, Qatar’s imports picked up by 17% in 2012, QNB said.
Typically, around half of imports over the last five years have been machinery and transport equipment related to major projects in Qatar.
The completion of all new LNG production facilities in the country by early 2011 played a large role in the slowdown of imports between 2008 and 2011, it said.
“The reversal of this trend in 2012 is an indication that project activity is again beginning to pick up with the roll out of major infrastructure projects, such as the metro, roads and real estate developments,” the economic monitor said.
According to QNB Group, the strong revenue stream from the oil and gas sector will support an expansive government expenditure outlay for infrastructure development going forward, as demonstrated by the large increase in expenditures in the 2013/14 budget.
An ongoing focus on the roll out of projects in the run up to the 2022 World Cup and growing momentum in the manufacturing sector will continue to drive diversification and growth of the non-oil sector.
“Overall, we expect a pick up in real GDP growth to 6.5% in 2013 and 6.8% in 2014,” QNB said.