Germany opens door to Qatar LNG in pivot from Russia
Qatar said it agreed to work on supplying Germany with liquefied natural gas (LNG) as Europe’s biggest economy seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
After years of uncertainty that stymied Qatari LNG sales, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said during talks in Doha on Sunday that his government plans to fast-track two LNG import terminals in Germany, QatarEnergy said in a three-paragraph statement that lacked specifics.
Both countries agreed “that their respective commercial entities would re-engage and progress discussions on long term LNG supplies from Qatar to Germany,” according to the statement. “Now it’s up to companies to sign the contracts,” Habeck said in a Twitter video.
Habeck’s trip is part of efforts by major economies to secure energy after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threw global supplies into disarray. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates last week to ask them to pump more oil.
Germany gets more than half of its natural gas, half of its coal and roughly a third of its oil from Russia. In another effort to diversify, Germany and Norway are considering building a hydrogen pipeline to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
Germany’s challenge is finding short-term alternatives to Russian gas this year, a bottleneck Habeck acknowledged before his trip. The country doesn’t have any LNG imports of its own after years of debating whether they’re necessary.
While Qatar was the world’s biggest LNG producer last year, its officials have said it can’t offer much help because of its long-term supply contracts. Only 10% to 15% of Qatari LNG can be diverted, and Europe would need to persuade Qatar’s long-term buyers, most of them in Asia, to do so.
The U.S. was Europe’s biggest source of LNG in 2021, accounting for 26% of imports by European Union countries and the U.K., followed by Qatar with 24% and Russia with 20%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Qatar is in the process of increasing its gas extraction and we need more gas in the short term to replace Russian supplies,” Habeck said in his video. “That is what I discussed with the Emir and the energy minister.”
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