April 10, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 12 days ago

Exxon, Qatar in talks for potential U.S. shale gas deal: report

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) is in talks with Qatar over a possible deal that could see the country investing in the company’s U.S. shale gas resources, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

FILE PHOTO: An iluminated board at the new Mobil gas station is pictured in Queretaro, Mexico December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The deal could take the shape of a joint venture in which Qatar, through state-owned Qatar Petroleum [QATPE.UL], could partner or invest in future wells with Exxon's XTO Energy subsidiary, the newspaper said on.wsj.com/2HoPiyj.

The newspaper said no deal had been finalized yet and talks could collapse. The newspaper did not say how much Qatar was planning to invest in XTO Energy.

If the deal takes shape as described, it would be the first time a Middle Eastern country invested significantly in a U.S. shale-related project.

Exxon, which is targeting Qatar for additional investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects reut.rs/2qn9FUr, already partners with Qatar Petroleum in Cyprus and Brazil.

Exxon spokeswoman Rebecca Arnold declined to comment on the newspaper’s report. A representative for Qatar Petroleum was not immediately available to comment.

    Mohammed Saleh Al Sada, Qatar’s minister of energy and economy, declined to comment on the newspaper’s report when asked by Reuters at an industry event in India.

    Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is set to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday.

    The shale revolution in the United States has not only seen a huge rise in crude production, but also in gas output. Exxon, already the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer, said earlier this year it is aiming to triple production in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2025.

    For Qatar, which is locked in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, the move could help broaden its investments outside the Middle East.

    Qatar is one of the smallest producers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and also one of the most influential players in the global LNG market due to its annual production of 77 million tonnes, cementing its position as the world’s largest LNG supplier.

    Qatar Petroleum is majority owner of the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas, with Exxon and ConocoPhillips (COP.N) holding smaller stakes.

    Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder in Houston, Rania El Gamal in Dubai and Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Phil Berlowitz

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