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Petroleum and natural gas

Since the start of oil extraction in 1949, traditional fishing, agriculture, pearl fishing and nomadic animal husbandry have gradually come to an end, sectors that until then had mainly thrived and were mainly important for the internal market.

It was not until 1965 that oil was extracted on a large scale for export. Petroleum production increased from 20,000 barrels per day in 1951 to 570,000 barrels per day in 1973. After the oil crisis, the number of barrels was reduced to 300,000 in 1988, but is now back at 600,000 barrels per day.

The oil accounts for 30% of the Gross National Product, for about 86% of the export income and for 66% of the state's income. The current reserves of 3.7 billion barrels of petroleum are good for many years of production. The petroleum has ensured that the GDP per capita is above the level of the major western industrialized countries ($124,100 in 2017 the highest income in the world). The extraction of the oil is in the hands of the state-owned Qatar Petroleum (formerly Qatar General Petroleum Corporation).

Natural gas reserves are more than 7 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world's total supply and the third largest in the world after Russia and Iran. The production and export of natural gas is becoming increasingly important and natural gas is also increasingly used for the desalination of seawater, the only source of drinking water.

In the long term, the aim is to create new offshore oil resources and diversify the economy.

Qatar is a member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The main buyers of the petroleum are: Japan, Brazil, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Various economic activities

The government of Qatar has attempted to diversify the economy over the past few decades, with limited success.

Qatar has a growing petrochemical industry, fertilizer and cement factory. The steel industry produces pig iron for Saudi Arabia and the domestic market.

Since 1960 there has been renewed activity in the fisheries, agriculture and livestock sectors, making the country largely self-sufficient. About 5% of the working population is employed in agriculture.

Imported are technical equipment, means of transport, foodstuffs. Main suppliers of these products are: Japan, United Arab Emirates, China and the United States. In 2017, imports totaled USD 30 billion.

Total exports amounted to $167.5 billion in 2017 and the main export partners were Japan, Singapore, South Korea, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Shipping, especially traditional coastal shipping, plays an important role for traffic. The country has a good road network. Umm Sa'id and Doha have important seaports. Umm Sa'id is used for bulk transport and Doha for regular transport. Since 1997, the port of Ras Laffan has been used exclusively for the export of natural gas.

Doha has an international airport and Qatar has interests in Gulf Air, which is further owned by Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar Airways is the national airline.


Robison, G. / Bahrain, Kuwait & Qatar
Lonely Planet

Whetter, L. / Live & work in Saudi & the Gulf
Vacation Work

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated January 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info