Dolphin Energy has flowed first gas in Qatar and is testing process plants before ramping up exports to the United Arab Emirates, the company said.
"The company has produced the first gas from its wells in Qatar’s North field," Dolphin said. "The gas is currently being used in testing all aspects of the plant."
Dolphin has said previously it aimed to export 2 billion cubic feet per day to the UAE by the end of the year.
The $3.5 billion Dolphin project was dragged into a territorial dispute between Saudi Arabia and the UAE last July, when the Saudis told minority partners France’s Total and US independent Occidental Petroleum that it had reservations over the subsea pipeline route.
The project’s development was unaffected. The start-up at the gas processing plant is a few weeks late, as Dolphin previously scheduled the full commercial launch in the first week of June.
Mubadala Development Company, run by the government of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi, owns 51% of Dolphin while Total and Occidental each have a 24.5% stake.
Dolphin is in talks with Qatar to increase the flow of gas to the pipeline’s maximum capacity of 3.5 Bcfd. But Qatar has called a moratorium on new projects from its giant North field as it studies the effect of rapid development on the largest reservoir of pure gas in the world.
The 364 kilometre pipeline for the gas exports to the UAE was completed last year. Dolphin began using it in March to bring 400 million cubic feet per day of gas processed by state-owned Qatar Petroleum to the emirate of Dubai. Dubai will be taking between 600 MMcfd and 800 MMcfd once full exports begin, industry sources said.
The Dolphin project has a link to Oman. That pipeline was the first to carry gas across borders in the Gulf Arab region when Oman began pumping to the UAE in 2004.
The direction of the UAE-Oman pipeline will be reversed next year, when Oman will begin receiving gas from Qatar via the UAE to feed its rising demand.
The Dolphin gas plant in Ras Laffan, Qatar, will have four gas processing trains with capacity of 500 MMcfd each.