Qatar’s energy minister warned on Tuesday that ‘the worst’ was yet to come for Europe’s oil and gas shortages, saying a warm winter had averted bigger difficulties in recent months .
The wealthy Gulf emirate, one of the world’s leading gas exporters, is seeking to seal long-term contracts with European states which, for the most part, have long refused despite their frantic quest for alternatives to Russian hydrocarbons.
“A reality that will prevail”
“The only thing that saved humanity and Europe this year was a warm winter and a slowing economy,” Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Al-Kaabi said during a briefing. forum in Doha.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Europeans feared a gas shortage due to sanctions against Moscow and rising prices on world markets.
“If the economy starts to take off in 2024 because of a normal winter, I think the worst is yet to come,” he said. “If they don’t realize this, if they don’t have a proper plan, if they don’t demonize the oil and gas companies and if they don’t sit down with the producers”, the Europeans will have to face a “reality (which) will impose itself”, he warned.
Potential long-term agreements
Qatar has pledged to develop the North Field, which contains the largest natural gas (LNG) deposits in the world, to boost its production to 126 million tonnes per year by 2027.
All production from the North Field East and North Field South fields could be subject to long-term agreements by the end of the year, Saad Al-Kaabi said.
“It is possible that we will not have any more gas from the NFE and the NFS by the end of the year, as far as long-term contracts are concerned,” he assured.
The “politics of headlong rush”
Qatar announced a major agreement at the end of 2022 to supply Germany with LNG for fifteen years, after difficult negotiations with Europeans reluctant to sign long-term agreements as the emirate does with Asian countries.
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman also said Europe was “saved by a gift from God” last winter, and that global energy security was threatened by the “policies of the headlong rush”, in reference to the environmental considerations opposed to hydrocarbons.
“Energy security is hampered. We lack capacity because countries are not investing in oil and gas,” the Saudi minister added, as the Gulf monarchy is the world’s largest exporter of black gold.
“We are talking about blue, green, purple, pink hydrogen, but in the end, who will take it? What will the price be? “, he quipped. “We are not talking about oil or gas. We are talking about the so-called cleanest and greenest fuel of the future. And yet, there are no buyers,” he castigated.
The Gulf countries largely promote decarbonization policies but regularly insist on the importance of investing more in gas and oil to meet global demand.
The United Arab Emirates, which is hosting the UN climate conference this year (COP28), is also calling for policies to capture CO2 emitted by the hydrocarbon industry instead of relying on green energies.