Qatar has reached a key milestone in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry by achieving 77mn tonnes annual export capacity and a customer network in all corners of the world, according to a report by Gulf Times.

Qatar entered the LNG market in October 1996 when a Qatargas plant began to ship LNG to Japan’s Chubu Electric Power. Qatar now supplies LNG to 23 countries at an estimated 77mn tonnes per year (toy). Qatar has set up a world-class port at Ras Laffan to ship LNG to customers around the world. Ras Laffan Port began operations in September 1996. Since then, the port and its berth facilities have been improved significantly. With four operational LNG berths, Gulf Times reports that Ras Laffan Port is the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporting facility.

According to Gulf Times, Qatar Gas Transport Company’s (Nakilat) multi-billion dollar investment in a fleet of LNG carriers is considered the largest single merchant shipbuilding program since the Second World War, during which the United States commissioned a new fleet to replace vessels destroyed in the conflict.

Nakilat has built a large fleet of vessels to transport LNG produced from the North Field, the world’s largest non-associated gas field with about 15 percent of the world’s proven reserves, to global markets. By the end of 2010, Gulf Times reports that Nakilat will own 54 LNG vessels, making it the largest LNG ship owner in the world. They comprise both Q-Flex and Q-Max, a new generation of LNG mega-ship with about 40 percent lower energy requirements and carbon emissions than conventional vessels due to the economies of scale created by their size and the efficiency of the engines.

To read Gulf Times” full report on this story, click here.