Qatar has benefited from rising oil and gas prices brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic-induced slow down and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Europe’s energy crisis will be high on the agenda as the European Council President Charles Michel is set to visit the Gulf country this week, a Qatari government official said on Sunday.
Michel is scheduled to travel to Qatar on Tuesday, as stated in his official agenda.
It comes as EU countries continue to make move towards ending their reliance on Russian gas following Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine.
The European governments are keen on securing energy cooperation with the oil-rich Gulf country to avoid a power cost surge as Russian flows plummet.
Europe receives 40% of its gas supplies from Moscow and almost a third of the shipments pass through Ukraine.
State-owned QatarEnergy, leading the world’s largest liquified natural gas project (LNG), has been in talks with various European buyers for months, however no public announcement of any new agreements have been made.
“Charles Michel will meet several high-level officials to discuss and review regional and international issues including the Russia-Ukraine crisis, energy crisis, in addition to a number of other issues like Afghanistan, Iran, and Palestine-Israel,” the Qatari official told Reuters.
As Moscow declared plans to keep its main gas pipeline closed off to Europe, European authorities, who are already fighting to control the skyrocketing gas prices, are now concerned about winter gas shortages.
The majority of the existing volumes of Qatari natural gas are secured by long-term agreements, primarily with Asian buyers, which Qatar has maintained it will uphold.
This recent sentiment came in a Singapore-based interview with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during his Asia tour last month.
In the interview, Sheikh Mohammed highlighted Qatar’s predominant dependence on long-term contracts with countries, “in fact we have a great partnership with Asia and Europe,” adding that “we have seen that pricing stability is important to continue this partnership and solidify it.”
“We have been a very reliable partner to all our buyers […] and we have have seen that the energy crisis is growing in the entire world [and still] we supplied to Asia and Europe and we didn’t give priority to one over the other,” he added.
“We just stick to our contracts.”
This comes as the country’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al Kaabi confirmed on Wednesday that QatarEnergy is in negotiations with Asian and European buyers for its LNG.
“We’re talking to everybody that wants to buy gas and stops in Qatar to have a discussion. When we’re done [negotiating], we sign,” Al Kaabi said.
Separately, Qatar is seeking to secure potential clients for its multi-billion plan North Field Expansion Project which is set to drastically increase the Gulf nation’s liquefaction capacity by 64% by the year 2027.
Qatar’s LNG supply amid energy crisis
During Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the United Kingdom in late May, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between QatarEnergy and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The agreement is aimed at strengthening energy cooperation between the Gulf country and the UK.
The move is seen as a means of expanding cooperation in the fields of energy security, renewable energy, and decarbonisation.
Regarding Qatar’s role in potentially alleviating LNG supply concerns, Energy Minister Al Kaabi on 24 May noted: “Unfortunately, it’s a little bit painful because it will take time [and the price is] amplified by the Ukraine issue”.
Qatar has the world’s third-biggest proven natural gas reserves, and is now one of the biggest providers of the fuel to the UK, shipping it in vast LNG tankers to Britain’s three LNG terminals.
Meanwhile, during Sheikh Tamim’s visit to Berlin in May, the two countries agreed to expand their energy cooperation in a new signed declaration. The agreement focuses on LNG and hydrogen trade. It also entails arranging a Qatari-German working group that will meet regularly to develop trade of LNG and hydrogen.
Speaking to German news outlet, Handelsblatt, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said his country hopes to start sending gas from the US Golden Pass LNG plant in Texas, in which QatarEnergy holds a 70% stake, to Berlin in 2024.