Kuwait City: Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, received requests from China and India for more supplies of the fuel, Oil Minister Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah said.

“China so far is asking for more gas,” Al Attiyah told reporters in Kuwait City, where he’s attending a conference.

“India will receive another 2.5 million tonnes starting later this year, and it wants an extra one million tonnes for its new terminal in Kerala.”

China has already signed an agreement for five million tonnes a year, and India receives the same amount, the minister said.

Qatar, which has the world’s third-largest gas reserves, after Russia and Iran, can use LNG exports to cushion its economy from the impact of lower oil prices and the global credit crisis.

Qatar’s one million population has the world’s second-highest per capita income after Liechtenstein.

Thailand will be Qatar’s next customer, receiving one million tonnes a year from 2011, Al Attiyah said. The minister hopes Qatar will be able to conclude a supply deal with Kuwait by this summer, he said.

All Qatar’s planned LNG plants will be ready by 2010 and there are no delays to projects even as demand falls, the minister said.

LNG is natural gas cooled to a liquid to aid transportation and storage.

“The gas price reflects economic growth and is linked to the oil price,” Al Attiyah said. “We have to live with it.”

Oil futures traded in New York reached a record $147.27 (Dh540.48) a barrel last July and have since tumbled 65 per cent.

(Bloomberg & Gulf News)