"Say Company A was planning to deliver LNG from Qatar to the UAE, but the latter now bans Qatari ships from docking and unloading.Company A’s response may well be to send an LNG carrier based in a third country to make the delivery instead, then reroute one or more others to make sure all customers are supplied.” Naser Tamimi, an independent Qatari energy expert, says that the same scenario applies to the possibility of Egypt stopping Qatari tankers using the Suez Canal; or raising fees for Qatari vessels.Roudi Baroudi is CEO of Energy & Environment Holding (EEH), an independent consultancy (the principal holder in EEH is Sheikh Jabor bin Yusef bin Jassim al-Thani, director general of the General Secretariat for Development Planning).
“The Qataris could get around it through tankers registered elsewhere, like the Marshall Islands," says Baroudi, "or divert some of their cargo going to Europe via South Africa.” He says that such moves could add about half a dollar to the cost of each British Thermal Unit (BTU) – but that the Qataris could cope with that, even if they had to absorb the cost instead of the consumer.
Around 70 percent of Qatar’s LNG exports are under long-term contracts - typically of around 15 years - so production and payments are secure.
Energy receipts account for half of Qatar’s GDP, 85 percent of its export earnings and 70 percent of its government revenue.
The crisis may affect the emirate's medium- to long-term energy contracts, as buyers diversify their imports to be less reliant on Qatari gas.
The remaining exports are on short-term or spot prices that are dictated by the international markets.
Sources within the shipping industry speculate that some deals may have been called off or delayed: there have been reports from insurance and petrochemical companies that 17 LNG vessels are now moored off Qatar’s Ras Laffan LNG port - a much higher number than the usual six or seven vessels.
The blockade of Qatar, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has already had an economic impact.
Qatar, the world’s second largest producer of helium, has stopped production at its two plants as it cannot export gas by land.
Cairo is firmly in the Saudi camp - but has not halted gas shipments.
Baroudi says: “Since the crisis erupted, Egypt has continued to accept shipments of Qatari gas on vessels flying other flags.