UPDATE 1-Global LNG demand to grow 2 pct a year for next 15 years -Qatar Petroleum CEO

* Growth in Japan, S Korea to be moderate; some growth in Europe

* China, India will be main drivers of growth in Asia

* Construction at Golden Pass LNG project in Texas has begun (Updates with comments from press release)

SHANGHAI, April 2 (Reuters) - Global demand for liquefied natural gas will grow at 2 percent a year for the next 15 years, the chief executive of Qatar Petroleum said at the LNG2019 conference in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Growth in developed markets such as Japan and South Korea will be moderate, while there will be some growth in Europe after years of stagnation, said Saad Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s minister of state for energy affairs as well as president and chief executive of Qatar Petroleum.

“China, along with India, will continue to lead Asia as the main drivers behind the growth of global LNG demand,” Al-Kaabi said at the conference, according to a press release later issued by Qatar Petroleum.

Qatar has shipped more than 50 million tonnes of LNG to China, more than 22 percent of China’s imports of the fuel over the past ten years, he said.

Al-Kaabi said demand for gas will continue to rise due to the growing concerns over the environment and climate change, and widespread moves towards using cleaner and more cost-effective fuels.

“While some see natural gas as a transition fuel, we believe it is a destination fuel. It is the cleanest of all fossil fuels. It is reliable, affordable, and the fuel of the future,” he said.

Qatar Petroleum also said in the press statement that it has awarded a number of contracts related to its LNG expansion project aimed at increasing LNG production capacity from 77 million tonnes a year to 110 million tonnes a year by 2024.

Main invitations for the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the onshore facilities will be issued by the end of the month, according to the statement.

Qualified shipyards will be invited to take part in a tender for building the LNG ships that will be required for its fleet for the expansion project, it also said.

It has also begun construction at its joint-venture 16 million tonnes-a-year Golden Pass LNG export project in Texas in the United States, along with project partner Exxon Mobil Corp . The project is expected to be in operation by 2024. (Reporting by Meng Meng and Andrew Galbraith in SHANGHAI; Additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue)