Ukraine showdown casts shadow over Qatar gas summit
Major natural gas exporting nations have begun meetings in Doha to discuss how to meet skyrocketing world demand as tensions surrounding Ukraine stoke fears in Europe about gas supplies from Russia.
Experts from the 11-member Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) started meetings in the Qatari capital on Feb. 20, ahead of ministerial level talks yesterday. The heads of states and governments are expected to speak today.
Member states include Russia, Qatar, Iran, Libya, Algeria and Nigeria, who together account for more than 70 percent of proven gas reserves.
With Europe’s fears growing that Russia will invade Ukraine, natural gas prices are at close to double the level they traded at in late 2020.
European nations are frantically seeking alternative supplies to Russian gas, which feeds 40 percent of the European market.
They have looked in large part to Australia and the United States, which are not forum members, and Qatar, but most producing nations say they have little spare capacity to fill the gap.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is set to meet with leaders from fellow GECF member states today. Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited but is not expected in Doha. But Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, who has rarely left his country since taking office, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley are all due to take part in the summit.
GECF member states are focusing on ways to increase output in the medium term. Qatar, a major producer of liquefied natural gas, has embarked on a huge project to increase production by 50 percent by 2027.
Because of the huge investment needed, all the producing countries want to “maximize revenues and guarantee a long term market for their gas commodity,” said Thierry Bros, a professor at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.