Qatar's Rasgas is to shut down one of the world's biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) production units for maintenance next January, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
She declined to say how long the outage, planned for the mid-winter peak demand period for most large gas consuming countries, would last.
"The planned routine maintenance on Train 7 will take place in January 2012," she said.
The plant, which can liquefy 7.8 million tonnes of natural gas per year (mtpa), started up in February 2010 and was built to supply North America, Europe and Asia.
On August 26, news that sister company Qatargas plans to stop three of its 7.8 mtpa plants in rolling maintenance planned for autumn caused the biggest rise in UK gas contracts since Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis began in March on growing winter fuel fears among European buyers.
British benchmark front-season gas prices soared to new highs last week on fears the Qatargas work planned for autumn, when demand usually rises as temperatures in major LNG importing markets of north-west Europe and north-east Asia fall, could cut supply to Europe and increase Qatari LNG diversions to higher-paying Japan.
Gas producers typically carry out maintenance on their facilities during the summer for the northern hemisphere, where most of the world's gas is consumed and where leading importers Japan, Korea and Britain use it for heating in winter.
Despite low demand, widespread maintenance on Rasgas and Qatargas production facilities caused a big rally in UK gas prices in summer 2010 because Britain has become increasingly reliant on large quantities of Qatari LNG to offset its own declining production.
Rasgas, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil , is one of two LNG producers in Qatar, the world's largest LNG exporter with the capacity to produce 77 million tonnes a year of gas chilled to liquid form.
From / Arabian Business News