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Qatar Petroleum signs up Zeebrugge capacity

Qatar Petroleum (QP) has signed up for the full capacity of the Zeebrugge LNG terminal, under an agreement with Fluxys Belgium, signed on September 2.

The Qatari company’s Qatar Terminal Ltd (QTL) will have the terminal’s full capacity from the end of current long-term unloading contracts, until 2044.

QTL has already contracted 50% of the terminal’s capacity under long-term agreements.

“We believe this arrangement will further support our customers in Belgium and Europe in general, by providing access to reliable LNG supplies from Qatar and allowing our customers to maximise the utilisation of such supplies,” said Qatari Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, who is also the president and CEO of QP.

Signing up for terminal capacity in Europe was part of QP’s “supply destination portfolio diversification strategy”, the Qatari official said.

Al-Kaabi signed the agreement with the chairman of Fluxys Belgium, Pascal De Buck.

The Fluxys official said the deal extended “our long-standing co-operation with our Qatari partners, secures long-term activity at the Zeebrugge terminal and further strengthens the facility’s position as a versatile LNG gateway into Europe offering customers optimum destination flexibility”.

De Buck noted the pipeline capacity that would allow gas to be distributed from the facility, “throughout north west Europe as well as a range of options for downstream small-scale LNG distribution”.

Belgian Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Marie-Christine Marghem welcomed the deal, noting Qatar provided 15% of the country’s gas supplies.

“I will ensure that we will continue to enhance our mutual confidence and relationship for the successful cooperation between our two countries.”

Fluxys offered the unloading slots at Zeebrugge through a subscription window, which ran from April 30 to May 24. The programme offered availability from 2023 to 2044.

This offering played a part in the decision by Belgian’s Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation (CREG) approving tariff and service agreement proposals.

De Buck, speaking in July when CREG approved the changes, said this would allow Fluxys to convert binding commitments “into new long-term contracts worth roughly €1bn [£1.09bn]”.

Activity is increasing at the Zeebrugge terminal. Fluxys has said 17 LNG carriers unloaded at the facility in 2017 and 33 in 2018. In the first half of 2019, 36 vessels were unloaded.

Part of this has been driven by increased activity at Yamal LNG. This Russian project exports gas in ice-class carriers and has been a keen proponent of transhipment, often at European ports. During the first half of the year, 10 ice-class carriers shifted cargoes to conventional carriers, up from two in 2018.

The Zeebrugge LNG terminal was commissioned in 1987. It has 380,000 cubic metres of storage capacity over four tanks, with throughput capacity of 9 billion cubic metres.

Construction of a fifth tank is under way, which will provide another 180,000 cubic metres of storage.

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