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Qatar GDP, 13 per cent growth

Qatar's latest LNG deal sets this tiny country on course for even stronger economic growth, says Standard Chartered Bank economist Daniel Hanna.

Increased oil and gas revenues and diminished regional geo-politicalrisks have helped underscore Qatar’s position as the Middle East’s star performer.

But it is the success of Qatar’s fast growing gas industry that is propelling the country forward. Today’s sealing of an USD8bn liquefied natural gas deal between Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum will be the largest investment into Qatar’s energy sector to date.

The joint project aims to produce 15.6 million tonnes a year of LNG. Qatar has invested more than USD12bn in the last 10 years to develop its gas resources and the Gulf state announced plans this week to invest up to a further USD30bn to boost its LNG exports to more than 45 million tonnes per year by 2010.

Qatar has the third largest known gas reserves in the world, after Russia and Iran. We anticipate an annual real GDP growth rate as high as 13% this year, thanks to robust oil and gas prices and the strong investment levels.

This will be double the average annual growth rate of 6.5% over the past five years and will provide yet another boost for per capita income levels, which at close to USD 30,000 are already the highest in the region.

The outlook for 2004 remains positive. Overall real GDP growth is expected to moderate as oil prices trend down but Qatar should still post a very respectable 5.5% growth.