“Gas-rich” describes Qatar better than “oil-rich”

Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmi writes in an op-ed in The New York Times:

Qataris who seek greater freedom of expression and more democracy in their oil-rich nation face disappointment, and perhaps worse.

I wouldn’t call Qatar oil-poor: it produces about 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) for a population of 2.2 million. For comparison, the much-discussed oil output from ISIS-controlled areas seems to be less than 50,000 bpd while their population is estimated at 2.8 to 8 million people.

However, if I were to describe Qatar as rich in some natural resource, I would definitely name gas rather than oil. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA):

Qatar was the world’s fourth-largest dry natural gas producer in 2013 (behind the United States, Russia, and Iran), and it has been the world’s leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter since 2006, with 31% of market share in 2014.

In terms of barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), Qatar’s dry gas output was about 3 million boepd in 2013. A further 1.4 million bpd was provided by various liquids that are by-products of gas production and processing, such as condensates, natural gas plant liquids, gas-to-liquids plant output and others. Add the 0.7 million bpd of crude production, and total liquids output becomes 2.1 million bpd. This is the number the EIA cites as Qatar’s “total oil supply,” noting that crude oil “represented 35% of petroleum and other liquid production in Qatar in 2014, down from 44% in 2010.”

In other words, Qatar’s total hydrocarbons output was 5.1-5.2 million bpd in 2014, with dry gas accounting for 58-59% of the total, gas-related or gas-derived liquids for 27%, and crude oil, for the remaining 13-14%. Gas-rich is the right term, especially if you must only use one.


  1. Gawd, that is a shocker from the NYT. But then, it’s the NYT. I’ve found the WSJ covers oil and gas matters far more competently.

    • They should have editors to filter out obvious inaccuracies. BTW, Fahmy is a famous journalist: he spent more than a year in an Egyptian jail for his reporting.

      I’d expect the FT to be good on oil and gas, but I don’t have a subscription.

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