Abu Dhabi eases curbs on Qatar-bound vessels, Dolphin pipeline undisrupted

Abu Dhabi eases curbs on Qatar-bound vessels, Dolphin pipeline undisrupted

Jun 08, 2017
4 min read
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Abu Dhabi petroleum port authorities have begun easing restrictions on non-Qatari oil tankers going to and from Qatar, while Qatari natural gas supply through a pipeline to the UAE remains intact despite the severing of diplomatic ties between the two Gulf Arab nations.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain said on Monday they would cut all ties including transport links with Qatar, the world's top seller of liquefied natural gas (LNG), accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar has backed Islamist movements but vehemently denies supporting terrorism.

Abu Dhabi Petroleum Ports Authority issued a new circular on Wednesday removing previous restrictions on non-Qatar owned, flagged or operated vessels sailing to and from Qatar, Reuters citied from the circular and industry sources.

The ban on vessels carrying the Qatari flag and vessels owned or operated by Qatar is still in place, according to the circular. Previously, all vessels were being restricted from going to and from Qatar.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia's Ports Authority told shipping agents through a posting on its Twitter account not to accept vessels flying the Qatari flag or ships owned by Qatari companies or individuals. It said Qatari goods would be barred from unloading in Saudi ports but the notice indicated co-loading of crude cargoes at Saudi ports would be allowed.



An official from government-owned Qatar Petroleum told Reuters the Dolphin pipeline would continue to flow gas to the UAE. "All is normal. There are no plans to close it," he said.

While land borders with Qatar from Saudi Arabia were shut, flights were halted between the five countries imbued in the political rift and vessels going to and from Qatar were temporarily restricted by UAE, the gas pipeline has seen undisrupted operations.

Qatar supplies roughly a third of global LNG - natural gas that has been converted into liquid form for export.

The pipeline, which links Qatar's giant North Field with the UAE and Oman, was operating normally and officials in Doha and Abu Dhabi told Reuters there are no plans to halt gas flows.

The pipeline was the first cross-border gas project in the Gulf Arab region. It pumps around 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day to the UAE.

The diplomatic dispute has stoked concern that any supply disruption could spill over into global gas markets. Even a partial shutdown would force the UAE to seek replacement LNG supplies.

The UAE could cope with Qatar suspending its two to three monthly LNG deliveries by calling on international markets, but Dolphin piped flows are too large to replace fully.

Mubadala Development Co, run by the Abu Dhabi government, owns 51 percent of Dolphin, while Total and Occidental each have 24.5 percent.

Meanwhile Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah continued a regional effort to mediate the crisis, shuttling from the UAE en route to Qatar on Wednesday evening, a Kuwaiti diplomat told Reuters.

But efforts to defuse the worst crisis among Gulf Arabs for two decades showed no immediate progress.