There will be greater responsibility towards optimising the output of existing LNG projects and an altogether tighter LNG market ahead, if the recent sentiments of the Qatargas Chairman and CEO are anything to go by.

Mr. Faisal M. Al Suwaidi this week delivered a key-note address at the 24th World Gas Conference (WGC), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 5th-9th October 2009.

A potentially ‘tight market’ ahead was reflected upon during Mr Al Suwaidi’s presentation, titled ‘International LNG Markets: A Global Perspective’.

The Qatargas Chairman and CEO outlined the future expansion strategy of Qatargas and explained that projects in the pipeline through 2012 will not be followed by many new LNG projects until 2015 or later, while also elucidating how the market for LNG could become very tight again.

“As markets become tight, Qatar will continue to deliver LNG where it is needed most. Qatar will use Q-Flex and Q-Max ships to deliver LNG to all global markets, while helping to balance volatile regional demand for natural gas. This tight market will put responsibility on existing projects to squeeze the most LNG out of what we have,” he said.

Mr. Al Suwaidi also brought attention to the shrinking number of professionals in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry to staff the future requirements that will follow the world economy’s imminent recovery. He noted that many of the LNG industry’s most talented and experienced people are approaching retirement age, while at the same time, companies are looking for ways to reduce spending and capital projects are being deferred

“These and other factors can lead to a shrinking number of professionals in LNG. At the same time, the young men and women, making decisions about their career paths will be influenced by what they are seeing today and possibly not select university studies that would prepare them for careers in our industry,” he added.

Mr. Al Suwaidi described how the global LNG industry is poised for growth over the next 3-4 years, noting that while natural gas demand has been affected by the global economic downturn, the global consumption of LNG is growing.

For example, though LNG imports to Japan have dropped, China and India are pursuing spot LNG to reduce the cost of generating power and fuelling their industries. European LNG imports are up more than 15% this year, while imports of pipeline gas have fallen. US LNG imports are 45% higher this year, while more expensive gas is left in the ground.

With those US LNG imports apparently rising, the Qatargas enterprise recently welcomed another of the world’s largest and most advanced Q-Flex LNG carriers, chartered on a long-term contract to Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited (4), known as QG4.

The Nakilat owned Q-Flex LNG Carrier ‘Al Karaana’ (210,000 CBM) will be used to ship LNG produced by QG4, to markets primarily in North America.

The Q-Flex and the even larger Q-Max are a new generation of LNG mega-ships. The Q-Max has 80% more capacity than conventional LNG carriers with about 40% lower energy requirements due to the economies of scale created by their size and the efficiency of the engines.