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British PM Visits Qatar Gas Plants

Prime Minister Gordon Brown saw first hand the extent of Qatar's vast natural resources on Monday when he visited a giant gas plant on his Gulf tour which aims to raise extra cash for the IMF

British PM Visits Qatar Gas Plants

Prime Minister Gordon Brown saw first hand the extent of Qatar's vast natural resources on Monday when he visited a giant gas plant on his Gulf tour which aims to raise extra cash for the IMF.

Brown chatted to workers at the Pearl Gas To Liquids project, being built in Ras Laffan by Qatar Petroleum and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to convert natural gas into 140,000 barrels per day of liquid fuel.

The visit came on day three of a four-day tour of Gulf states which has so far taken in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and has now moved to the United Arab Emirates where he will meet political and business leaders.

Brown's first appointment in the UAE is to address an international petrol conference in Abu Dhabi.

The PM is hoping to raise hundreds of billions of extra dollars for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so it can expand its bailout fund for countries hit by the world economic crisis.

He has appealed in particular to China and the oil-rich Gulf states, which he says are flush with cash because of recent high oil prices, to help.

The IMF is already set to help Iceland, Ukraine and Hungary, and Brown wants it to be able to step in elsewhere if necessary.

Brown, whose struggling leadership domestically has been boosted by his role on the world stage over the financial turmoil, said on Sunday that he believed Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, would step in to help.

"The Saudis will I think contribute like other countries so we can have a bigger fund worldwide," Brown told reporters, adding that he believes other Gulf states will also be willing to help.

"I think people want to invest both in helping the world get through this very difficult period of time but also I think people want to work with us so we are less dependent on oil and have more stability in oil prices."

Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani also sounded willing to assist but drew the distinction between offering help and cooperating.

"Qatar is not excluded or any other country is not excluded from this so we have to work together and instead of using helping, I think we use the word of cooperation," he said.

Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, thanks largely to its major oil and gas reserves, while the UAE controls around nine percent of the world's oil reserves.

Brown's tour comes ahead of a meeting of G20 international leaders, which both he and Saudi King Abdullah will attend, in Washington on November 15 which will address issues including IMF reform.

The British premier is also using his trip to call for a "stable energy market" following an extraordinary six months in which oil prices have fallen from record highs of nearly 150 dollars a barrel in July to under 60 dollars in recent days on fears of falling demand linked to the slowdown.

He clashed with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) -- of which Saudi Arabia is the leading producer and Qatar and UAE are members -- over its emergency production cut last month which aimed to bolster prices.

The Qatari premier said after their meeting on Sunday that he believed a per barrel price of between 70 and 90 dollars a barrel would be fair.

Qatar's energy minister, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, last week criticised Britain and others for casting OPEC as "the bad boy" for cutting production while failing to recognise that less oil was being bought because of global economic conditions.

In Qatar, Brown also visited the Qatar Gas plant which produces liquid gas for Britain and other countries and has the capacity to supply up to 20 percent of British gas needs.

Author: Jo Amey


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