Abdullah al-Attiyah, who spearheaded the Gulf state's crude output expansion in the 1990s and, more significantly led the country's emergence as the LNG capital of the region, has stepped down as the energy minister following his appointment as the Chairman of the Emir's court.

Al-Attiyah, who served as the oil minister from 1992, has been replaced by Mohammed Saleh al-Sada, former minister of state for energy and industry. He was one of the longest serving OPEC oil ministers, besides being the trusted lieutenant of the Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Al-Attiyah became the oil minister before Al-Thani ascended to the throne in 1995.

... Abdullah al-Attiyah is moving on to perhaps the most powerful behind-the-scenes position in Qatar after that of the Emir, his heir apparent, and the prime minister, according to IHS Senior Middle East Energy analyst Samuel Ciszuk.

Al-Attiyah's biggest contribution to the tiny Gulf state was his success in realigning the country's fortunes around its abundant LNG resources.

Al-Attiyah has overseen successful breakneck development from a time when Qatar boldly risked almost everything on the gamble that global LNG growth would take off, to a situation where it successfully has been able to navigate a global gas supply glut, laying the foundations and formulating the long-term policies and strategies for by-far the world's largest LNG market actor, Ciszuk wrote in a note.

With Qatar reaching its 77-million-t/y LNG capacity target, the nature of the brief will change considerably from growth management to market development and administration, making a swap to the top position a logical step.

The analyst said the appointment of al-Sada signals continuity, as he has been heavily involved in the strategy and policy formulation under al-Attiyah for some time. Also important is the petrochemical industry background of al-Sada, which signals where Qatar is moving next, as it starts to cash in on its successful gas investments.