Natural gas made Qatar’s citizens the richest in the world within a generation. Even with bigger fuel reserves, Iran will struggle to follow its neighbor’s path.
Iran’s own production is consumed by a population of 78 million and an oil industry that injects gas into fields to boost productivity. Qatar, with a population of 2.3 million, now ranks second only to Russia in gas exports, generating about $86 billion last year.
While Iran and world powers Tuesday reached a nuclear deal after almost two years of talks that would ease sanctions and allow more investment, the government in Tehran is contending with domestic gas demand that is doubling every decade. Iran holds 18 percent of the world’s gas and yet accounts for less than 1 percent of trade.