Moscow is Berlin’s largest supplier of gas, importing 42.6 billion cubic meters from Russia.
Qatar and Germany have agreed to expand their energy cooperation in a new declaration signed in Berlin on Friday. As the invasion of Ukraine continues, Germany like many of its neighbours, is seeking to reduce its dependency on Russian gas.
The declaration was signed by Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck. The signing took place during the visit of Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Germany as part of his Europe tour.
The Amir was previously in Slovenia and Spain before arriving in Germany. He is expected to later travel to the UK, Switzerland, and France.
Reuters reported that the recent declaration focuses on liquified natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen trade. It also entails creating a Qatari-German working group that will meet regularly to develop trade of LNG and hydrogen.
Another group is going to focus on renewable energy.
Speaking to German news outlet, Handelsblatt, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that his country hopes to start sending LNG to Berlin in 2024.
“We want to have our US Golden Pass liquefied natural gas plant in Texas, in which Qatar Energy holds a 70% stake, ready to deliver to Germany as early as 2024,” Sheikh Mohammed told the media outlet.
Qatar and Germany have been holding energy talks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Scrambling to find alternatives to Russian gas, Habeck visited the Gulf state in March in a bid to diversify his country’s energy supply.
In a joint press conference with Sheikh Tamim, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said,”Energy is an essential matter for us, and we want to develop our capabilities, and Qatar plays an important role in our strategy.”
Reducing reliance on Russian gas
Three people privy to the talks told Reuters that the latest agreement does not include long-term deals.
Reuters had previously reported that the energy talks between Qatar and Germany faced challenges, with the latter appearing to be hesitant to sign deals as long as 20 years.
“The issue of LNG contract length potentially putting Germany’s decarbonisation targets at risk is part of the ongoing discussions with Qatar,” a source told Reuters this month.
Moscow is Berlin’s largest supplier of gas, importing 42.6 billion cubic meters from Russia. Habeck previously said that he plans on making Germany independent of Russian coal and gas in less than a year.
The latest deal between Qatar and Germany came a day after Berlin’s parliament ratified a new law that would expand LNG infrastructure to enable more deliveries to the country.
Other European countries that have turned to Qatar for LNG include; Italy, the UK, and France. Europe, which was already dealing with an energy crisis, received 40% of its gas supplies from Moscow, with almost a third of the shipments passing through Ukraine.
Beyond energy, the agenda of Sheikh Tamim’s meeting during his tour includes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Before departing to Europe, the Amir had travelled to Tehran with the nuclear accord being a key topic of the meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Germany is part of the p4+1, who have been engaging in the indirect talks in Vienna between the US and Iran to restore the JCPOA. Doha has been reportedly mediating between Washington and Tehran in an effort to revive the accord.
“We hope that there will be an agreement between the parties of the nuclear deal, and Qatar is ready to participate in resolving this dispute,” Sheikh Tamim told the press conference.
The US unilaterally abandoned the deal in 2018 under the former Donald Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on the country. Talks in Vienna started in April last year to salvage the deal, with Tehran demanding the lifting of US sanctions.