A key to bridging the growing distance between the gas supply and the end market is the development of the next generation of LNG tankers and the terminals needed to regasify the LNG.

As the distances increase, the shipping element of the overall project cost can have a significant impact on project economics. It has been estimated that the costs to acquire the necessary transportation could exceed the cost of the liquefaction plant. Increasing the size of these tankers from the traditional 135–140,000 m3 reduces both the initial investment (need fewer ships) as well as the unit operating costs. Qatar has led the way in working with classification societies, equipment vendors, technology licensors and builders to develop and qualify LNG Tankers with increased sizes ranging from 210,000 m3 (called QFlex) up to 265,000 m3 (called QMax) with an intermediate sized vessel approximately 243,000 m3 (called SFlex).

These vessels will also incorporate twin slow speed diesel engines and on-board re-liquefaction plants that will virtually eliminate cargo loss through LNG boil off. Qatar has developed an integrated fleet strategy that balances the economies of these next generation LNG Tankers with the flexibility desired for worldwide terminal access. Extensive and detailed port compatibility studies for these larger vessels have been conducted and continue to be revised.

To ensure liquid market access, RasGas' & Qatargas' shareholders have demonstrated a willingness to move downstream and invest both in existing as well as grass roots development in the terminals that will return the LNG to its gaseous state. This "New Era" for Qatar redefines the "Integrated Value Chain" model and completes the value chain from the Qatari wellhead to gas delivery into the consumer grid, all under the umbrella of Qatar Petroleum (QP), its partners and the LNG ventures RasGas and Qatargas.

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