European buyers have requested additional Qatari LNG: Kaabi
European buyers have approached Qatar with requests for additional LNG volumes and Doha is doing its “utmost” to help supply more LNG to Europe, energy minister Saad al-Kaabi said Feb. 22.
Speaking following a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Doha, Kaabi also said the current high prices were fundamentally a result of a lack of investment in the gas sector and were present before the current crisis in Ukraine.
“European buyers have come to us to ask for additional volumes. What we have said is ‘we would support you with additional volume if it’s available’. The majority of our volume is already tied up in long-term contracts,” Kaabi said.
“We are supportive of the EU and ready to supply whatever is possible from our side and the volume that will be available — while abiding by contracts and our commitments,” he said. “We do our utmost to help.”
European gas prices remain at sustained highs having hit record levels in late December, with prompt prices surging again on Feb. 22 after Russian President Vladimir Putin late Feb. 21 publicly recognized eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions as breakaway states.
Kaabi, however, said: “The issue of price increases in Europe started way ahead of the Ukraine issue.”
“The rise in prices was witnessed in the middle of last year. The fundamental issue on pricing is a supply-demand issue and a lack of investment in fossil fuels primarily caused by the euphoria towards energy transition that was not studied as well as it should have been,” Kaabi said.
Kaabi also stressed that the Russia-Ukraine crisis was not discussed during the GECF summit on Feb. 22.
“Regarding the politics of any country and how a sovereign country treats others or gets treated is nothing to do with the [GECF],” he said.
“There was absolutely no discussion on anything related to what’s going on in Ukraine because we are not a political forum. There was absolutely, unequivocally no discussion on anything related to politics in this forum,” he said.
The crisis in Ukraine has led to concerns over potential disruption to Russian gas supplies to Europe.
However, given Europe’s dependence on Russian gas — which in recent years has met around one third of Europe’s demand — Kaabi said no single country could replace lost Russian gas.
“There isn’t the capacity to do that from LNG. Most LNG [volumes] are tied to long-term contracts and destinations that are very clear. To replace that sum of volume that quickly is almost impossible,” he said.
Kaabi also stressed that diverting cargoes from one market to another would have a knock-on effect on the market losing the cargo.
“We will not break contracts to favor one customer versus the other,” he said.
“With the tight market that’s there, even if you take from one region to another, what is going to happen is that you’re going to deprive that market and there is going to be a shortage and a spike in price,” he said.