No reason was given for the surprise reshuffle in which al-Attiyah was replaced as energy minister [GALLO/GETTY]

Qatar has replaced its long-serving energy minister, Abdullah al-Attiyah, with his deputy as part of a limited cabinet reshuffle in the world's largest natural gas exporter.

Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, named al-Attiyah as his chief of staff in a decree, sources told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

In addition, al-Attiyah, who served as Qatar's minister of energy and industry since 1992, will continue to serve as deputy prime minister, according to the decree.

He is being replaced by Mohammed Saleh al-Sada, a former junior minister. Al-Sada took the oath of office on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by al-Attiyah and the prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar News Agency reported.

'No policy change'

But a senior government official said the reshuffle does not necessarily indicate a change in the country's energy policy.

"There will be no change to the oil policy. Our ship is sailing very smoothly, so why should there be any change?" a senior Qatar energy ministry official told the Reuters news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"All the major oil projects have been announced so everything should be calm and smooth."

Al-Sada has been the managing director of RasGas Company since 2006. He is also the vice-chairman of the board of Qatar Chemical Company (Q-Chem) and Qatar Steel Company (QASCO).

He previously was the technical director at Qatar Petroleum, where he worked for more than two decades.

Qatar holds the world's third-largest natural gas reserves, estimated at more than 900 trillion cubic feet (25 trillion cubic metres), after Russia and Iran.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies