Qatar opens on Tuesday an ethylene plant at with an annual production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes in the northern city of Ras Laffan.

“The total cost of the project has reached 1.37 billion dollars (1.05 billion euros),” Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiya told reporters during the inauguration ceremony.

Ras Laffan Olefins Company Limited (RLOC), the owner of the plant, plans to increase its production capacity to 1.6 million tonnes per year, organisers said.

The plant will push forward the petrochemical industry in the small Gulf emirate known for its wealth in gas production.

“Qatar’s production of petrochemicals reaches 85 countries and our strategic aim is to achieve a production of 28 million tonnes by 2014,” Attiya said.

Qatar has natural gas reserves estimated at more than 900 trillion cubic feet (25 trillion cubic metres) — third largest in the world after Russia and Iran. A member of OPEC, the country also produces some 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

The RLOC project is a joint venture of Qatar Chemical Company II Limited (Q-Chem II), which holds 53.31 percent, Qatofin Company Limited with 45.69 percent and Qatar Petroleum with one percent.

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