The Gulf kingdom supplies some European countries with liquefied natural gas (LNG), but has the contractual right to divert supplies to other customers – primarily in Asia – if they are willing to pay more.
“We won’t turn [contracts] “We will keep them in Europe, even if there is financial gain for us to divert them away, we will not do that. This is in solidarity with what is going on in Europe,” Al Kaabi said.
The minister refused to impose sanctions on the Russian oil and gas sector, saying “energy should be kept out of politics” and reiterated that stopping Russian gas supplies to Europe “is not feasible.” The minister also said his country was not “taking sides” in the conflict.
The European Union wants to reduce Russian natural gas consumption this year as it prepares to completely break away from its largest single energy supplier due to the war in Ukraine. Its plan calls for taking advantage of alternative supplies, including LNG shipments, boosting production and imports of bio-methane and renewable hydrogen, and retrofitting buildings to reduce consumption.
Earlier this week, German officials including Economy Minister Robert Habeck visited Qatar for talks on supplying gas to Europe amid uncertainty over Russian energy.
“We have not agreed on a long-term agreement with Germany yet, but we are ready to discuss with the companies we were discussing to put a long-term agreement into possible implementation,” Al-Kaabi said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last week in a bid to persuade the two countries to increase oil supplies. The two countries have spare production capacity, but both have so far remained committed to the OPEC + agreement with Russia to increase production only gradually.
By 2028, Qatar hopes that its gas volumes will be divided equally east and west of the Suez Canal. Currently, about 80% of Qatari gas goes to the east and only 20% is shipped to the west.
Qatar, which withdrew from OPEC in 2019 after a diplomatic row with its neighbors, said it had no plans to return to the group. However, Al Kaabi still supported the supply moves by the group, describing their plan as “very reasonable”.
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