Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer RasGas plans seven maintenance shutdowns in 2012, a company official from one of the world's biggest gas exporters said. In June, RasGas announced plans to shut its 7.8-million tonne per year (mtpa) LNG export facility, known as Train 7, for maintenance in January 2012. But it plans to shut Train 7 again for work in October 2012 as part of a wide-ranging programme of shutdowns next year.
"The first (Train 7) will be in January... Trains 1 and 2 will be shut in May and Train 7 will be down in October," the RasGas official told Reuters at a conference in the Qatari capital Doha.
"We will also shut AKG-2 (Al Khaleej Gas Two) in March."
AKG-2 processes gas for use in Qatar, while processing associated condensate and natural gas liquids, while trains 1 and 2 produce up to 6.6 mtpa of LNG for export around the world. RasGas performs on average between five and six maintenance shutdowns on its large gas liquefaction plants each year, he said. He was unable to give details of the other two maintenance shutdowns planned for next year.
"We try to do the maintenance at off-peak seasons, which are at different times for different customers," he said.
RasGas, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil, is one of two producers in Qatar, which together can produce 77 million tonnes a year of gas chilled to liquid form for export by ship.
News that Qatargas planned maintenance on its facilities from September to October 2011 sparked a surge in European gas prices in late August.
An official from sister LNG producer Qatargas declined to comment when asked about maintenance plans for its plants next year. Gas producers have typically carried out maintenance on their facilities during the summer for the northern hemisphere, where most of the world's gas is still consumed and where leading importers Japan, Korea and Britain use it for heating in winter. New consuming markets of South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are starting to change seasonal demand patterns for LNG.