Qatar's proven recoverable oil reserves, estimated at 15.2 billion barrels in early 2002, dominate the country's economy. For reasons of financial stability and resource conservation, the decision was made in the mid-1970s to limit oil production to no more than 500,000 barrels a day. Production has fluctuated but gradually risen from 310,000 barrels per day in 1983 to 485,000 in 1992. Production in the first half of 2002 amounted to 807,777 barrels per day. Qatar's largest producing oil field is the onshore Dukhan field on the western coast of the peninsula. Offshore production accounts for about 40% of the total, mainly from three of Qatar's six offshore fields about 50 miles from the coast.
Total control over oil production and marketing was assumed by the government in early 1977. The Qatar General Petroleum Corp. (QGPC) controls all oil and gas extraction and production and also acts as an umbrella organization for a number of joint ventures. The National Oil Distribution Company controls refining and distribution. The state-owned oil and gas sector also includes subsidiaries that handle petrochemical production, fertilizer production, and liquefied natural gas. Qatar's gas reserves, the world's third largest, are estimated at 14.4 trillion cu m, representing more than 5% of the world's known reserves; output was about 29 billion cu m in 2000. Nearly all of Qatar's natural gas reserves are in the North Dome Field, considered to be the largest natural gas field (unassociated with oil) in the world.
Qatar's power plants are mostly gas-fired. Electrical capacity was 1,475 MW in 2001, as compared with 70 MW in 1970. Power production in 2000 reached 8.8 billion kWh, of which 100% was from fossil fuels. There are three main electrical power stations, at Ra's Abu Aboud, Al-Arish, and Ra's Abu Fantas. The Ra's Abu Fantas facility, which also includes a water desalination plant, is the largest and newest. A new 380 MW generation unit was added there in June 2002.