Qatar to host gas exporters summit as Ukraine crisis simmers

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson and Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar's energy minister [Twitter]

With Europe worried about its gas supplies amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Qatar will host a summit of top natural gas exporters including Russia, organisers said Tuesday (8 February).

The United States has sought the help of its close ally Qatar in providing emergency supplies if pipelines to Western Europe are cut, according to US officials.

Organisers did not immediately confirm whether Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would attend the biannual Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) summit on 22 February.

Russia, Iran and Qatar are key members of the forum, which will also hold two days of ministerial meetings.

The United States and Australia, two other leading exporters, are not part of the group.

US President Joe Biden vowed on Monday, during a meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, to shut the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe if Moscow launches an invasion of Ukraine.

Biden says Nord Stream 2 to end if Russia invaded Ukraine

During German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s inaugural visit to Washington, US president Joe Biden emphasised that Nord Stream 2 should end if Russia invaded Ukraine.

The massive new pipeline has been completed, but has yet to begin funnelling natural gas to Germany, a route tying energy-hungry Europe ever closer to Russia.

The European Union has also been seeking alternatives to Russian gas in case of an energy crisis.

European Union energy commissioner Kadri Simson visited Azerbaijan, an observer member of the gas forum, on Friday in an effort to diversify the continent’s energy sources.

EU eyes more Azeri gas amid high bills and tight Russian supplies

The European Union is seeking more natural gas from Azerbaijan, an EU official said, as Europe grapples with high energy bills and tight deliveries from Russia, which has been at loggerheads with the West over Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister, told the EU his country could not rescue Europe alone if Russia turned off gas supplies, but was ready to help “in times of need”.

The GECF says its 11 members and seven associate countries account for 70% of proven gas reserves and 51% of global liquefied natural gas exports.

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