Shell, which is developing Pearl GTL under a production sharing agreement with state-owned Qatar Petroleum, said natural gas wells were opened to allow the first sour gas to flow through a subsea pipeline into the onshore plant in Doha.

Shell said that additional sections of the GTL plant will be opened progressively over the coming months.

The Pearl GTL project, which was launched in July 2006, consists of two offshore platforms 60km off the Qatar coast, connected by pipeline to the largest gas to liquids plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City.

Pearl will produce 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the North Field when fully operational.

These gas will be processed to generate 120,000 barrels per day of condensate and natural gas liquids and 140,000 barrels per day of gas to liquids (GTL) products.